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January 2011, in Tunisia, Tariq Muhammad Bouazizi set fire to himself in front of a government building. Muhammad was a young fruit seller, who operated without a permit; like most sellers in the market. One of his main goals was to get a truck, so that he could buy fruit directly from the farm at a lower price. After setting up shop one day in his normal spot, Muhammad got into a conflict with officials. Normally, he had to pay an amount of his daily earnings as a bribe, to sell without a permit. This time the officials took everything he had. He went to the local government building to make a complaint, where he was turned away three times. Not only did the officials take away his fruit and his cart, but they also took away his reputation and his hope. For someone who worked hard for very little he now had nothing. Muhammad gave up and decided to cover himself in gasoline and set fire to himself, committing suicide.                                                                                                                                                            Although Muhammad’s suicide was not politically motivated, people started to protest because they realized that it could happen to them next. This started the Arab Spring, which is a wave of pro-democracy protests against several Arab countries governments. People joined because they thought that their governments were unfair and corrupt, they were poor and needed jobs. As protests spread across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the importance of electronic devices and social media increased. In response, the government leaders shut down the internet to try to control the information that was getting out. However, it was too late and the world was already aware. As protest continued, some governments made attempts to compromise with their people, while others violently tried to hold their position.                                       In Tunisia, the first response was military action against protesters. However, the end result was President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali stepping down. In Egypt, thousands of people began to protest, the military tried to stop them but could not. President Hosni Mubarak left office after almost 30 years in power. In Yemen, the military aligned with leaders of the protesters. After President ‘Ali’ Abd Allah Salih was injured in a bombing attack, he returned to sign over his power to the Vice President. In Bahrain, the protesters were the Bahrain human rights activist and the Shi’ite majority. Protests were violently stopped by the Bahrain security forces and about 1,500 soldiers from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Protest leaders were imprisoned, Shi’ite workers were fired from their jobs, and Shi’ite mosques were demolished. In Libya, the protest quickly turned into an armed revolt. NATO, in alliance with the rebels, launched air attacks that shifted the balance in favor of the rebels. President Muammar al-Gaddafi was forced from power in August 2011 and killed in October the same year. In Syria, protest calling for President Bashar al-Assad to resign were responded with violent military action. Assad is still in power and war and protest continue today.    

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