Mohamad Bouazizi! – a straight forward answer.
Ok, on a more serious note, what’s pushing all these masses to be on the streets? Since the start of the so called ‘Arab Spring’ less than 5 months ago, all analysts have been looking to study the involvement of the Islamic movements (or other ideologies).
This interest spiked after Osama Bin Laden’s death last week, with majority looking to assess its impact on the uprisings (I can even tell from the search engines hits on my previous first Bin Laden post!)
Moreover, many political parties claimed their fatherhood to the freedom demanding protests. Al-Qaeda claimed that the uprisings were the fruits of their struggle against America and the Arab regimes.
The Americans (likely to be Republicans) said that the uprisings were the results of what George W. Bush started in his Iraq invasion in 2003!
In Lebanon, Hezbollah claimed – when the uprising reached Egypt – that the uprisings were the result of their resistance ideology against Israel. While the anti-Hezbollah March14movement claimed that the uprisings were a continuation of their Cedars Revolution that ousted the Syrian Army from Lebanon in 2005. On the other hand, Hezbollah kept quiet when the uprising reached Syria, and March14 did not support the uprising when it reached Bahrain.
George W. Bush, Hezbollah and anti-Hezbollah parties have protected or been protected by repressive regimes in the region, so they can’t be ‘the father’.
As for Al-Qaeda and other Islamist movements, a 2011-survey conducted just before Osama Bin Laden death, with results published by The Economist, showed how the support for Al-Qaeda was fading in the Arab Countries – in different rates though. To put this in perspective, Al-Qaeda had ‘some’ kind of ‘sympathy’ in the Palestinian Territories(34%), Egypt(21%) & Lebanon(1%).
Some extremist Salafists were involved in sectarian deadly clashes this week in Egypt, but these people size in unclear on the political scene? The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood announced last week that they will accept a ‘non-religious’ state in Egypt. They established a political party (Justice & Freedom Party) similar to Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan party (Justice and Development Party) with no Islamic reference in its name, and they want to be involved in the political process.
With the presence of the social media networks like Facebook, twitter, YouTube and others, young people felt they can voice their opinion and reach out. With the absence of professional journalists (due to their ban by the Arab regimes during unrests), activists are now reporting the uprisings news on social media networks. These days anybody can be reporting real-time events to thousands of people in seconds on twitter (and anybody can be blogging – me an example!).
One thing is very clear here to me: these uprisings are driven by the need to speak up, and the thirst for freedom. No ideology is initiating or motivating these uprisings. On the contrary, all politicians and major parties have followed them, and surely ridden the wave. Revolutions started genuily, but surely can be stolen.