The Arab Spring
Arab Spring – timeline
- Tunisia, 17 Dec 2010: street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi sets himself on fire to protest the arbitrary seizing of his vegetable cart by police over failure to obtain a permit. Protest spread across the country and eventually prompted authoritarian president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali to abdicate and flee to Saudi Arabia. He had ruled the country with an iron fist for more than 20 years.
- Egypt, 25 Jan 2011: inspired by the events in Tunisia and building on earlier protest movements, mass protests start in Egypt leading authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak to step down. He had ruled for almost 30 years. Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood is elected president in 2012, then a coup led by defense minister Abdel Fattah el-Sisi installed the latter as president in 2013, and he remains in power today.
- February 2011: mass-protests start to appear across the region
- Morocco, 22 May 2011: police beat thousands of pro-democracy protesters. Moroccan voters approve constitutional changes that limit the power of the country’s monarchy.
- Bahrain: peaceful pro-democracy protests in the capital Manama in 2011 and 2012 were violently suppressed by the government of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. Officially, the country has a constitutional monarchy form of government, but personal freedoms remain limited. The plight of the Bahraini people was dramatically portrayed in the documentary Shouting in the Dark, which was released in 2012.
Arab Spring – aftermath
- Libya: authoritarian dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in October 2011, during a violent civil war, and was executed by opposition fighters. Video footage of his death was seen by millions online. Since Gaddafi’s downfall, Libya has remained in a state of civil war, and two opposing governments effectively rule separate regions of the country. This has contributed, in part, to the ongoing worldwide refugee crisis, which has seen thousands flee Libya, most often by boat across the Mediterranean Sea, with hopes of new opportunities in Europe.
- Syria: pro-democracy protests began in Syria on 15 March 2011, but escalated to a civil war that has lasted for several years, forcing many to leave the country to seek refuge in Turkey, Greece
and throughout Western Europe. For a time, the militant group ISIS had declared a caliphate—a nation governed by Islamic law—in northeastern Syria. The group executed thousands of people, and many others fled the region in fear of their lives. Although ISIS has largely been defeated in Syria, the oppressive regime of long-time dictator Bashar al Assad remains in power in the country.
- Yemen: Yemenis hold a “Million Man March,” a large-scale pro-democracy protest on 23 September, 2011. Yemen dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh signs a power-sharing agreement. He resigns altogether in February 2012 and is later killed, in 2017, while the country is still engulfed in a civil war. The country’s infrastructure has suffered significant damage, and the conflict has devolved into tribal warfare.
- Tweets from Tahrir
- Translating Egypt’s Revolution (American University in Cairo Press, 2012), Edited by Samia Mehrez
- “Routledge Handbook of the Arab Spring” (Abingdon: Routledge, 18 Dec 2014 ), Routledge Handbooks Online.
- This Week (The Economist, 2017, Egypt) (4:46 min)
- The Square (Award-winning documentary film, 2013, Egypt) (trailer only, 2:32 min)
- Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark (Al-Jazeera, 2011) (full documentary, 50:55 min)
- Voice of Freedom (song)
The full talk can be seen here: