Today, December 17th, is the anniversary of Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation in Sidi Bouzid. Perhaps one of the most powerful and ultimately catalyzing instances of individual protest, Bouazizi (whose real first name is Tarek) self-immolated to protest his mistreatment at the hands of the government and the inability to make a living for himself - a pain and frustration that resonated with Tunisians, and then citizens of nations across North Africa and the Middle East. He later died on January 4th, but the protests and demonstrations that were set in motion across the region have continued to this day - so far leaving three dictators downed in their wake.

Above (clockwise from the top): demonstrators in Tunisia hold a large poster of Bouazizi (Salah Habibi/AP); graffiti in Tunisia by an unknown artist shows Bouazizi’s face and his last name in tribute to his martyr status; his cousin Walid Bouazizi mourns at his grave in Garaat Benour cemetery in Sidi Bouzid in January (Fred Dufour/AFP); Manoubia Bouazizi holds a photograph of her son (Maxpp/Zumapress).

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