It all started in a quiet Tunisian city named “Sidi Bouzid”. An unemployed college graduate was selling fruits and vegetables on the street when his cart was taken by the police due to lack of authorization. He rebelled. He lit himself on fire. And soon enough, his whole city lost its quietness and lit its rebel voice.
A mini-domino game followed. Neighboring cities starting protesting against the status quo in their country: political oppression, unfair elections, squashed liberties. In a matter of days, the whole country was rebelling. They wanted change. They were willing to die for this change. And change happened: the president, Ben Ali, succumb to his people’s demands and resigned.
I will not go into the details of what happened in Tunisia after that. The Tunisians have a long way to go in order to build the country that I believe they deserve.
Tunisia was a major domino piece. Soon enough, many in the neighboring countries of Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania… started to try to implement change in their countries by copycat acts of burning themselves. These didn’t work.
However, on January 25th, Egypt rose. Egypt, the country of the pharaohs, rendered in a near coma after years and years of even worse oppression, decided to stand up for what it is. The people started rebelling. They started to stand up for what they deserve, for the life they should be leading.
Egypt is a country of over 75 million inhabitants. Many of those live such a poor life that describing it is truly saddening. Imagine living with less than $1 per day. That’s not even enough money for a bottle of water in some places. Yet these people lived by.
But on January 25th, they decided their life’s standards were no more acceptable. The Egyptians are revolting. Hosni Mubarak’s 30 year rule is, hopefully, nearing an end. His speech yesterday made it clear that this is a very tired man who cannot rule a country as important as Egypt anymore. He cannot fulfill his people’s needs, regardless of if he ever actually fulfilled them.
My hopes for the Egyptians at this point is to not let their will down. Their army and police are fighting them back. But soon enough, these forces will let down. They are, at the end of the day, part of the people they are trying to keep at bay. These people want to be with the protesters on the other side. But they’re still afraid. So hang in there. I know it’s much easier to preach than to be there. But Egyptians, you are a great population of many, many numbers… use those numbers to your advantage. And know that you are not alone in your fight.
I’m worried, however, that in these countries where the political regime is changing, worse people would take over. It would be catastrophic if the people of Egypt and Tunisia did not go by true democracies now that they have the opportunity to change and instead went by Islamic rule. You might say it is unlikely but these movements are surging in more “open” countries than Egypt and Tunisia, such as Turkey. One would assume that countries where these movements are somewhat strong would have an even bigger surge now that the opportunity is there for them to do so – and ultimately get to power. Islamists arriving to power would be detrimental to the whole region. Now that you have the opportunity to change, let this change reflect positively on the region as a whole.
You might wonder why I chose my title to be “The Domino Effect”. The answer is quite simple. For the region around it, Tunisia was a “Sidi Bouzid”. The power the people of Tunisia showed radiated to their neighboring countries and filled the people of those countries with strength and hope that they could change their lives as well.
The domino effect might also be applicable to the presidents of the countries where this is happening. But presidents are not important. They come and go. They might stay for a while, as has been the case for Tunisia and Egypt. But what really remains is the people. The people are the catalyst of anything that goes on in a country. If they feel subdued, the country is subdued and those who take advantage of that will be happy. The presidents, whose reigns are nearing their end, were taking advantage of their peoples being conformists. But that is no more. Their people are revolting. They want them out. And soon enough, out they will be – along with their dynastic, uptight and oppressive mindsets.
Tunisia was the first chip in a giant domino game involving many countries. And this game was purely initiated by the people. Not other countries making it look like these people started it – but by a single man whose college degree was not getting him anywhere and who didn’t see any horizons in front of him. What I hope those in charge around the world would take out of this is to never take the people they are in charge of for granted. Those people got you where you are and even in the darkest of situations, this people will rise again.
Here’s hoping some other populations follow suit…