Friday, December 16, 2011

Arab Spring anniversary: how a lost generation found its voice

It started with a death in Tunisia, spread to Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and Syria. But one year on, the youth revolt has gone truly global

Shiv Malik, Jack Shenker in Cairo and Adam Gabbatt in New York, Friday 16 December 2011

"It could have easily been overlooked. It was not the first time a young, frustrated Arab had taken desperate action to draw attention to the plight of the marginalised millions. But on this occasion the news of a suicide went viral.

A year to the day since Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation in a sleepy Tunisian town kicked off a year of revolt, the convulsions have spread further than could ever have been imagined: in the depths of a Russian winter activists are planning their next howl of protest at the Kremlin; in a north American city a nylon tent stands against a bitter wind; in a Syrian nightmare a soldier contemplates defection.

Quietly, a lifetime of old power structures – political, social, ideological – have been dissolved and the certainties of one generation have been replaced by the messy unpredictability of another. Today the furniture of the new sits deliberately beside the supposed certainties of the old. Handmade barricades are bolted to public squares, plastic tents pitched beside stone cathedrals, and the solid steel of a New York bank is harassed by pop-up armies of retweeters....."

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