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Mohammed Bouazizi no Jan Palach or Ryszard Siwiec

Reader comment on item: Mohammed Bouazizi, Historical Figure

Submitted by Maria (United States), Apr 20, 2011 at 09:17

Truly tragic story but I doubt that Mohammed Bouazizi's final act of protest would have been committed had the persecuting police official not been female.

Compare with the self-immolation of Ryszard Siwiec, a Polish teacher and former fighter of Armia Krajowa who set himself on fire in September 1968 in protest of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact forces invasion of Czechoslovakia: his was a principled act of political protest, albeit desperate, against totalitarian aggression. Likewise, Jan Palach, a Czech student, repeated the same act of desperate protest in early 1969 to call attention of the world more interested in "bad peace" with the Soviet oppressor than in a "good quarrel".

I have the feeling that poor Mohammed Bouazizi, much put upon and oppressed by the brutality of the corrupt police force, might have gone back to complain another day - had not the officer who slapped him was a woman: in the dominant culture of the region this act of public humiliation that can only be cleansed by spilling the blood – ideally, of the offender but in this case, powerless and desperate as he was, Bouazizi chose his own.

I do not want to diminish his tragic end or the brutality of the conditions that led to it. I want to draw a comparison and have the readers make their own conclusions.


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