I will always cherish the day the dictator Ben Ali was toppled: in a true popular uprising, and not a coup
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 16 January 2011
"Every 23 July for the past 58 years Egypt, my country of birth, has celebrated its "July revolution" that overthrew King Farouk and ended the monarchy and British occupation once and for all. It was no revolution: it was a coup staged by young army officers.
And so it has been with a series of "revolutions" around the Arab world in which a succession of military men went on to lead us in civilian clothes – some kept the olive drabs on – and rob generations of the real meaning of revolution. For years I looked at the Iranians with envy – not at the outcome of their 1979 revolution, but because it was a popular uprising, not a euphemism for a coup.....
Interestingly, both western observers and Gaddafi have been crediting WikiLeaks, but for different reasons. By buying into the idea that leaked US embassy cables about corruption "fuelled" the revolution, commentators smear Tunisians with ignorance of facts and perpetuate the myth that Arabs are incapable of rising up against dictators. Gaddafi railed against WikiLeaks because he, too, wants to blame something other than the power of the people – and cables from Tripoli portray him as a Botox-using neurotic inseparable from a "voluptuous" Ukrainian nurse.
Gaddafi's Libya has had its own protests over the past few days. Nothing on the scale of Tunisia, but enough that his speech to Tunisians could be summarised thus: I am scared witless by what happened in your country.
That's why I insist we stop and appreciate Tunisia: relish the revolution that is no longer a euphemism for a coup."