By Annabelle May, Buzzfeed
In 2010, 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi was assaulted after refusing to pay a bribe to a police officer. The officer had asked Mohamed to show his vending license, and when he couldn’t the officer demanded a bribe. Mohamed refused and as a result, was slapped and his scale was taken from his fruit stand. Without the scale, Mohamed could not operate the stand. This caused an uproar as Mohamed followed the officer, exclaiming “How do you expect me to make a living?” Thus began the Arab Spring, which spread all throughout the Arab regions and protests broke out in Egypt’s Tahrir square.
Interestingly enough, Facebook was even used to organize protests for certain topics such as government corruption and poverty. As the protests progressed, they turned more violent.
Now, the Arab League is discussing solutions to stop these protests. Some promoting censorship and some promoting stronger military. Yet, was the Arab Spring really due to the rise of populism or was it something more?
“The circumstances that lead to the Arab Spring were more than lack of democracy, was more than oppression," said the representative from Libya to the Arab League. "It was the belittlement of our people with a complete disregard for human rights.”
Across the Arab states, people are being mistreated by positions of power every day. For example, Libya unpaved roads after their citizens have used them. Saudi Arabia promotes corporal punishment for things such as adultery and even drunkenness. Syria has broken out in a deadly civil war.
The Arab Spring was caused by the belittlement of people who were beaten, ignored, and treated terribly as citizens. So, does the idea of censorship and stronger military sound like such a good idea? To answer, a representative from the Arab League said that, “The Arab Spring does not include the suppression of peaceful protests, the suppressing of any democratic ideas, or the suppressing of people's voices within their government.”
The Arab Spring is an uprising that promotes the ideals of populism, but it was not started by populism. It was started by a disrespect for the people and the lack of basic human rights in some Arab countries. The Arab League should look to the treatment of their people in order to truly fix this issue.