We Salute the brave people of Tunisia
By Ayesha (Sylvia) T Villalobos for Opinion Maker
The divine can wipe out every standing army on Earth with a simple gesture; can make weapons useless and defenses as permeable as gossamer silk. This force can accomplish anything, anytime, anywhere. Just because it isn’t doing it, doesn’t mean it can’t, or won’t. We don’t and can’t comprehend the mind of the one who has been here from the beginning and always will be. We have no clue as to the immensity of the awareness and power. The divine has activated his agents and you are going to see some mind-bending and spectacular things.| Smoking Mirrors
“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment” Nelson Mandela
The collapse of the 23-year dictatorship, the first ever collapse of an Arab leader to a "people power" uprising rocked the world. President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali described as a staunched Western supporter fled out of the country. Massive unemployment, media censorship, denial of access to information specifically internet and the grave corruption by the Head of state prompted the riot. They start off after, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself ablaze on December 17 in remonstration, a young graduate who sold fruits and vegetables as a livelihood, his cart confiscated for his failure to secure proper license. He eventually died an agonising death on January 5. Like Tunisia, similar protest over unemployment and food prices have also conked out in Jordan, Algeria and even Saudi Arabia in the past weeks, all countries with an elevated percentage of young people, majority are well-educated but unemployed.
President Ben Ali supported the US and executed free market reforms, which only according to activist groups will only serve the Presidents family and allies. Leaving the masses in chaos. Jordan young people on the other hand launched a massive protest over repetitive taxations, soaring prices of basic commodities and unfair government policies. Activists complain of rampant government corruption as the sole reason of the current plight of the people. In Algeria youth blocked major roads, to show their protest against high prices and hard living conditions, particularly those of homeless family who are victims of 2003 earthquake.
The root causes of this chaos are to be identified from government failure to uphold the welfare of the masses, a government which is motivated by “power and profit” rather than equality, also another factor is the fatal combination of poverty, political oppression, and massive unemployment. According to Arab League and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) stated that the Arab countries, 50 per cent of the unemployed are the young people, so far the highest rate in the world.
According to the same report, rates of poverty remain high – "reaching up to 40 per cent on average, which means that nearly 140 million Arabs continue to live under the upper poverty line". Worse still, the study noted that the region has seen no decrease in rates of poverty in the past 20 years.
At the event of global economic crisis the Arab world unveiled the revival of Arab activism – which first occurred in Egypt in 2007 and 2008. The show of popular force and strikes serves as a wakeup call of the advent of organised protests against political oppression and anti-poor economic policies.
But while the protests in Tunisia ousted the corrupt Leader and the population eager to protect their rights and freedom, Pakistan also bleeds from state corruption as Robert Fisk described it “ Pakistan is a corrupt state ,right from the top down”, it does not only corrupted the country but also the mind of its citizen, created desperation beyond human comprehension. That in desperation to change their plight bank on this oppression to act alone, to vindicate themselves evidence of this was the slaying of Punjab Governor Salman Tasser by his own bodyguard Malik Mumtaz Hussein Qadri, 26 Qadri said he had been angered by Mr Taseer's backing for proposed amendments to the blasphemy laws – under which a Christian woman faces the death sentence.
Qadris act was an extreme desperation, an act of a person aching from socio-political and religio-economic miseries .Many condemned the act calling it “ brutal”,” cowboy justice”,”political assassination “ and “national martyrdom” but for Qadri it was just a revenge and execution of justice between Him and the Prophet (pbuh).Corruption, inefficiency nepotism has been ingrained in the government and became an essential part of the system, which resulted to social unrest, and criminality. Out of this oppression, will emerge, an ideology, to challenge the lethargy and contempt of the ruling elite to the suffering of the poor and disenfranchised the significance of revolution which is for responsible government. To have grown into responsibility and the glory of nationhood. They would be idealist in their own way, they believe in power of knowledge and popular support to cast their trust in reason. We may consider them correct or we may consider them in the wrong but to the citizen who feel betrayed and beaten down by oppression revolution is viable, arousing their awareness of national unity of common grievances and common fate.
Tunisia’s revolution have proven that their people knew how to give the utmost sacrifice when their country called, willing to sacrifice and heed the call of countrymen who had accepted peace and were beginning a new type of struggle within the bounds of law and order .A movement from darkness into light, that no power can subjugate a people who love and value freedom.
They started a revolution, a revolution in opposition to graft and corruption and against those criminals who have been trying to rule it over their country. The brave people of Tunisia deserve a salute to have stood up to a corrupt tyrant who has run for his shelter.
It’s about time that people of Pakistan should realize that their Government is playing with fire, that the new era is beginning to place within their reach the instruments of their own deliverance, the door of opportunity stands open, and it is in your hands. The triumph over light, over darkness the approach of new age redemption.
Ayesha (Sylvia) Villalobos is a scholar and a political activist from Phillipines. She is a student of InternationalRelations with extensive research in Muslim world. She has her heart vibrating for Muslim unity and creation of a Muslim Common Market that she refers to as ‘Ummah.’ For the past sometime, she has been writing for Opinion Maker.