On December 17, 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old street vendor in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, set himself on fire in front of a government building. His self-immolation sparked protests that quickly spread across Tunisia, leading to the topple of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's regime and inspiring the Arab Spring.
Bouazizi had been working as a street vendor since he was a teenager. To support his family, he would wake up early every morning to set up his stand and sell produce. But he was constantly harassed by police, who would confiscate his goods and humiliate him. Unable to get a loan to start his own business, Bouazizi saw no way out of his situation.
On the day of his self-immolation, Bouazizi went to the local governor's office to complain about the harassment he had been facing. When the governor refused to see him, Bouazizi doused himself in gasoline and set himself on fire. He died of his injuries a few weeks later on January 4, 2011.
Bouazizi's self-immolation sparked protests against police brutality and corruption that quickly spread across Tunisia. On January 14, 2011, President Ben Ali was forced to step down after 23 years of power, becoming the first victim of the Arab Spring.
Bouazizi's story is a powerful example of the power of individual action. His self-immolation inspired a revolution that toppled a dictator and inspired people across the Arab world to stand up against their own repressive regimes.
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