It began in Tunisia, where the dictator’s power grabbing and high living crossed a line of shamelessness, and a commonplace bit of government callousness against an ordinary citizen — a 26-year-old street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi — became the final straw. Bouazizi lived in the charmless Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, 125 miles south of Tunis. On a Friday morning almost exactly a year ago, he set out for work, selling produce from a cart. Police had hassled Bouazizi routinely for years, his family says, fining him, making him jump through bureaucratic hoops. On Dec. 17, 2010, a cop started giving him grief yet again. She confiscated his scale and allegedly slapped him. He walked straight to the provincial-capital building to complain and got no response. At the gate, he drenched himself in paint thinner and lit a match. It was an act that would incite protests that would topple dictators and start a global wave of dissent. In 2011, protesters didn’t just voice their complaints; they changed the world.
The Protester’ has been named Time’s ‘Person of the Year’ for 2011. The magazine cited dissent across the Middle East that has spread to Europe and the United States.
Excerpt, read more: ‘The Protester’ as ‘Person of the Year’|TIME