London: The Times newspaper in London on Thursday
named Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian fruit seller who
unwittingly started a wave of protests known as the Arab
Spring, as its person of 2011.
The 26-year-old from a poor family set himself alight in
the town of Sidi Bouzid on December 17, 2010, in protest
against harassment by officials, and died from his burns in
His actions sparked a revolt that toppled president Zine
El Abidine Ben Ali and ignited protests across the region
which ultimately led to the fall of Egyptian president Hosni
Mubarak and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
"Mr Bouazizi takes his place with other figures whose
willingness to see through the charade of oppressive rule
elevated them beyond the drudgeries and petty humiliations of
commonplace existence," The Times said in an editorial.
"His brief life and agonising death are a fanfare for the
Bouazizi`s mother told the newspaper that her son did not
intend to kill himself when he set himself on fire, but merely
wanted to protest against the confiscation of his weighing
scales during an inspection of his fruit stall.
Already struggling to earn a living from the unlicensed
business, his pride was also severely dented when a female
official confiscated his fruit and slapped him, his mother
said, although the official has denied this.
Whatever his intentions, "his death inspired downtrodden
masses to believe that it is possible to challenge the local
police officer, the security agent, the governor and even the
president-for-life", The Times said.