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Posts tagged ‘protesters’

The fruit seller who threw down the dictators

Mohammed Bouazizi or Basboosaas his friends called him was a poor fruit seller who had been working since he was 10 year old. he was only 3 years old when his father passed away and the little he earned was used to keep his mother, uncle and 6 siblings alive. He was used to being harassed by the local police for quite sometime but he would continue working with his handcart where he stashed vegetables and fruits. But this would come to an end December 17, 2010.

The female policeofficer, Faida Hamdi confiscated his handcart the day after he had borrowed money to buy more vegetables. Besides taking away his only income, the police officers had cussed him out in public, beaten him and called his late father bad names.

The shame, frsutration, desperation and humiliation had become too much for the 26 year old boy. He doused himself in petrol and set fire. And with him a whole region burnt down.

His suicide sparked the frustration the Tunisian people had felt for a long time and using Facebook and Al Jazeera, they spread the story about the young fruit seller. The Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine fled the country January 14th after ruling for 23 years.  Nobody had anticipated that his suicide would break down the dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and bring unrest to Syira, Jemen and Bahrain.

Mohammed, a simple young boy, work very hard to send his sisters to school and university earning only $5 a day. He was often forced to bribe the authorities more than he could earn to set up his handcart because they wouldn’t give him a permit.

Now, a picture of Bouazizi’s face has been set up to the mosaic tiled monument outside the municipal office where he earned his slap from a female worker when he went to complain about not being able to work as his income had been confiscated.

His friends and family remember him as a young man of simple taste, who had no time to follow football or music, and in time wanted to get married. His ambition was to buy the pickup truck for which he was saving, so he could drive to the market to buy his fruit, instead of having to walk.

His mother remembers how happy he was that morning and that he had never been suicidal, only frustrated over the town officials who would treat him unfair. “He would just sleep a few hours and go early to the market to push his handcart. When he had free time, he would stay with his family at home”, she said.

Outside Sidi Bouzid, where Mohammed used to live and work, about 12 miles along the main highway, there is a dirt road signposted for Sidi Salah. The cemetery is a little way beyond the village among some few trees and a line of ochre hills. Bouazizi’s grave is a grey concrete block with two pretty yellow bowls set in it, filled with water.

 

Crisis of Democracy – Libya

The security forces of the two cities Benghazi and Dern has fled according to eyewitnesses on Friday night even though the information is impossible to verify because the countries strict control of media and communication. The rumors are many and twitter is flowing over with reports that the rebels have taken over control of the border with Egypt and that two of Gaddafi’s sons have fled the country. Also the lack of foreign and independent journalists in the country makes it hard to know what is true and what is not. According to a news agency AFP based on various local sources, a total of 84 people have been killed.

Even though people were protesting peacefully, according to HRW, security forces killed 20 people in Benghazi, 23 in Baida, three in Ajdabiya, and three in Derna in a matter of days. In addition, 35 people were killed in Benghazi on Friday, nearly all with live ammunition.

Demonstrators protesting against the government is also said to have killed two policemen in Al-Bayda by first being captured and then hanged. The situation is escalating and it is also said that Gaddafi released many prisoners from prison as they were paid and armed with knives and machetes to attack the protesters. It is a “lynching situation” going on as the police executes most of the demonstrators with bullets to the head as well according to reports from hospitals.

In many places the electricity has been shut down and many internet sites blocked as well.

The regime of Muammar Gaddafi is said to be behind the massacres, according to The Guardian, which reported that it also imposed a news blackout, similar to Iran’s crackdown on journalists in 2009.

The last few days have represented an unprecedented challenge to the 41-year rule of Gaddafi, the New York Times reported, in part inspired by the Egypt revolution.

Februar 11, Iranian Revolution day

The period from February 1 to 11, is celebrated every year in Iran as the “Decade of Fajr.” February 11 is the “Islamic Revolution’s Victory Day”, a national holiday with state sponsored demonstrations in every city.

The Iranian Revolution also known as the Islamic Revolution or 1979 Revolution, (Persian: انقلاب اسلامی, Enghelābe Eslāmi) was the event that overthrew Iran’s monarchy, the Pahlavi Dynasty under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi) as it was replaced by the Islamic republic under Ayatolah Ruhollah Khomeini. The demonstrations against the Shah started already in January 1978 as it continued until December. The Shah did not see any other solution but to leave for exile in mid January 1979 before Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Teheran.

The royal monarchy collapsed shortly after on February 11 when rebel troops overwhelmed troops that stayed loyal to the Shah in an armed street fight. On April 1, 1979, the Iranians voted by national referendum to become an Islamic State and Khomeini became the Supreme Leader of the country on December 1979.

Background of the revolution

The revolution started as being a populist and nationalist revolution and later became Shi’a Islamic. It was against the Westernizing and secularism efforts of the Western supported Shah and as the Iranians claimed, a puppet of the United States whose culture was impacting on Iran. The Shah’s regime was also known as being oppressive, brutal, corrupt and very extravagant that brought shortages and inflation to the country.

Ruhollah Khomeini

The leader of the Iranian revolution and Shi’a cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini first came to political prominence in 1963 when he led opposition to the Shah and his “White Revolution”, a program of reforms to break up landholdings (including those owned by religious foundations) and allow religious minorities to hold government office. This led to the arrest of Khomeini in 1963 after he declared that the Shah was a “wretched miserable man who had embarked on the destruction of Iran.” He had preached that revolt and martyrdom against injustice and tyranny was a part of Shi’a Islam. Three days of major riots followed throughout Iran as 15,000 supporters of Khomeini died in police fire. Khomeini was later released after 8 months of house arrest and continued on condemning the regime’s close cooperation with Israel and USA. In November 1964, Khomeini was re-arrested and sent into exile where he remained for 14 years until the revolution day.

Away from Iran, Khomeini developed the ideology of velayat-e faqih (guardianship of the jurist) as government, that Muslims (in fact everyone) required a “guardianship,” in the form of rule or supervision by the leading Islamic jurist or jurists. Such rule was even “more necessary than prayer and fasting” in Islam, as it would protect Islam from deviation from traditional Sharia law, and in so doing eliminate poverty, injustice, and the “plundering” of Muslim land by foreign non-believers. This ideology, spread through his book Islamic Government, mosque sermons, smuggled cassette speeches by Khomeini and his network consisting of students and traditional business leaders.

The first militant anti Shah demonstrations happened in October 1977, after the death of Khomeini’s son Mostafa. The protesters were a few hundred but increased into several thousands. In January 1978, the army was sent into Qom were religious leaders and students were demonstrating. The protests ended with the death of many students. The cycle repeated itself, and on March 29, protests began across the nation. Luxury hotels, cinemas, banks, government offices, and other symbols of the Shah regime were destroyed; again security forces intervened, killing many. On May 10 the same occurred. Security forces were unable to deal with protests and demonstrations and the large size of anti Shah Movement showed that there were “too many to arrest,” overwhelming the security forces.

Black Friday

A new prime minister, Jafar Sharif-Emami, was installed in late August and reversed some of the Shah’s policies. Casinos were closed, the imperial calendar abolished, activity by political parties legalized — to no avail. By September, the nation was rapidly destabilizing, and major protests were becoming a regular occurrence. The Shah introduced martial law, and banned all demonstrations but on September 8 thousands of protesters gathered in Tehran. Security forces shot and killed dozens, in what became known as Black Friday.

Departure of shah

By December 1978, Shah’s position had deteriorated so much that soon he would “only be allowed to stay in Iran,” and he was turned by the opposition. On January 16, 1979, the Shah and the empress left Iran. Scenes of joy followed and within hours, the Pahlavi Dynasty was destroyed. Bakhtiar dissolved SAVAK, freed political prisoners, ordered the army to allow mass demonstrations, and promised free elections and invited Khomeinists and other revolutionaries into a government of “national unity”. After stalling for a few days Bakhtiar allowed Ayatollah Khomeini to return to Iran, asking him to create a Vatican-like state in Qom and calling upon the opposition to help preserve the constitution.

Khomeini’s return and fall of the monarchy

On February 1, 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran in a chartered Air France Boeing 747. The welcoming crowd of several million Iranians was so large that he was forced to take a helicopter after the car he was being transported in from the airport was overwhelmed by an enthusiastic welcoming crowd. Khomeini was now not only the undisputed leader of the revolution, he had become what some called a “semi-divine” figure, greeted as he descended from his airplane with cries of “Khomeini, O Imam, we salute you, peace be upon you.” Crowds were now known to chant “Islam, Islam, Khomeini, and We will follow you.”


Khomeini appointed his own competing interim Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan on February 4, ‘with the support of the nation’ and commanded Iranians to obey Bazargan as a religious duty. “Through the guardianship (Velayat) that I have from the Holy Lawgiver, I hereby pronounce Bazargan as the Ruler, and since I have appointed him, he must be obeyed. The nation must obey him. This is not an ordinary government. It is a government based on the Sharia. Opposing this government means opposing the Sharia of Islam. Revolt against God’s government is a revolt against God. Revolt against God is blasphemy.

As Khomeini’s movement gained power, soldiers began to defect to his side. On February 9, a fight broke out between loyal Immortal Guards and the pro-Khomeini rebel Homafaran element of the Iranian Air Force, with Khomeini declaring jihad on loyal soldiers who did not surrender. Revolutionaries and rebel soldiers gained the upper hand and began to take over police stations and military installations, distributing arms to the public. The final collapse of the provisional non-Islamist government came at February 11 when the Supreme Military Council declared itself “neutral in the current political disputes… in order to prevent further disorder and bloodshed.” Revolutionaries took over government buildings, TV and Radio stations, and palaces of Pahlavi dynasty. March 30 and 31, 1979, a referendum to replace the monarchy with an Islamic Republic passed through with 98% votes in favour of the replacement.

For further reading, you can read my other blog article about February 1st, Return of Khomeini https://hatefsvoice.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/february-1st-1979-irans-spiritual-leader-returns-from-exile/

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