`The Protester` is Time`s Person of the Year

Last Updated: Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 00:36

New York: `The Protester` is the Time`s 2011
Person of the Year, as the magazine honoured those who stood
up for common people, from India`s anti-graft crusader Anna
Hazare to Tunisia`s street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi, who set
himself on fire sparking the Arab Spring.

The US magazine said the revolution 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."

Last year, the Time picked Facebook founder Mark
Zuckerberg, whose competitors included another 21st century
communications guru, WikiLeaks maestro Julian Assange.

Accompanying the Time report is a photo essay of profiles
of over 30 ordinary citizens who did not give up in the face
of death and torture and continued to fight tyrannical
regimes, corruption, inequality and injustice all over the
world.

Among the pictures is a close-up profile of a smiling and
Gandhi-cap wearing Hazare and one in which he is sitting
cross-legged. Its caption reads "anti-corruption crusader in
India."

"When God wants to bring in change, he needs a vehicle of
change, and I became that vehicle," Hazare is quoted as
saying. Among the other photos is that of Ahmed Harara, a
Cairo dentist who was blinded by rubber bullets during clashes
in January, protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement,
Egyptian protesters, leading Tunisian feminist Professor
Dalenda Largueche, Greek protest dog Loukanikos as well as
that of a clenched fist.

Time termed as "remarkable" the common cause of the
protests. "Everywhere they are disproportionately young,
middle class and educated. Almost all the protests this year
began as independent affairs, without much encouragement from
or endorsement by existing political parties or opposition
bigwigs.

All over the world, the protesters of 2011 share a belief
that their countries` political systems and economies have
grown dysfunctional and corrupt sham
democracies rigged to favor the rich and powerful and
prevent significant change."

It said in Egypt the incitements were a "preposterously
fraudulent" 2010 national election and the common act of
"unforgivable" brutality by security agents. In the US, three
acute and overlapping money crises tanked economy, systemic
financial recklessness, gigantic public debt along with
ongoing revelations of double dealing by banks and the refusal
of Congress to consider even slightly higher taxes on the very
highest incomes "mobilized Occupy Wall Street and its millions
of supporters."

In Russia it was the realization that "another six (or
12) years of Vladimir Putin might not lead to greater
prosperity and democratic normality."

Time said people used the power of the internet,
mobilising support for their cause though social networking
sites Facebook and Twitter.

Protesters "used the Internet to find one another and take to
the streets to insist on fairness and (in the Arab world)
freedom."

"They were all unhappy, they wanted change and they
wanted better life," Time said. "Everybody is out there to
unite their power for one common cause, one common
expression to get a better life".

From Sidi Bouzid, Alexandria, Cairo to Madrid, Athens,
London, Mexico, India and Chile, "citizens mobilized against
crime and corruption; the loathing and anger at governments
and their cronies became uncontainable and fed on itself," it
said.

The shared honour for protesters beat the traditional
individual contenders, who included Admiral William McRaven,
commander of the US mission to kill al Qaeda chief Osama bin
Laden.

"There`s this contagion of protest," managing editor
Richard Stengel said on NBC television. "These are folks who
are changing history already and they will change history in
the future."

The list centered on heavyweight political figures such
as McRaven, Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei, and influential
Republican Congressman Paul Ryan.

There were also an emotional nod for Kate Middleton, who
was credited for putting a spring back in the British
monarchy`s step with her wedding to Prince William.

Linked by secure video from Jalalabad to the White House,
McRaven had briefed President Barack Obama in real time as the
Navy Seal team descended upon bin Laden`s massive compound in
Pakistan`s Abbottabad town and over 40 minutes later flew out
carrying the Al-Qaeda leader`s corpse.

"He was almost like the voice of Walter Cronkite,
completely calm," says Michael Leiter, who was present with
Obama as director of the National Counter terrorism Center, of
McRaven.

Another runner up is Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton,
who "is bigger box office than the rest of her in-laws
combined".

"In marrying the second in the line of succession, the
newly minted princess has accepted a mission riven with
apparent contradictions.

She`s expected to uphold tradition while bringing
modernity to the monarchy, and to reinforce a system based on
birthright while proving that a commoner can cut it as a
royal."

PTI



First Published: Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 00:21

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