Distant Witness: Prologue, Tunisia, and Egypt (Reading Response)

The title of this book makes so much sense. Andy Carvin, the author, only experiences the Arab Spring through social media. He is actually a distant witness. Still, he has the ability to convey a detailed image of the uprising going down in Northern Africa and the Middle East to his reader/viewership. It is awesome how his Twitter handle is used by many as a source for current and political events. Citizens of these Arab nations were dissatisfied with their governments, and once one nation executed a revolution that had a successful result, it was inevitable for sistering nations to follow suit.

Mohamed Bouazizi of Tunisia began it all. Like most other young merchants, he was selling without a proper license. This gave the government the excuse to strip him of everything he had. As a result of losing all that he had, and in protest, he put oil on and burned himself right in front of everyone at the government office. This was recorded and quickly became viral through Facebook and Twitter. Resultantly, this sparked the revolution in Tunisia that eventually drove their dictator leader to flee the country.

Egypt was really the first Arab country to somewhat mirror Tunisia’s revolution. Change was in the air. Khaled Said, a young Egyptian who leaked information of the corrupt police force, was later found beaten and killed by the police. It took a little bit of time for the truth to come out, but “within weeks, more than 200,000 people joined the [protesting Facebook] group, literally waiting for their marching orders” (19). Social media was a driving force for the Arab Spring.

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