“Our people had had enough, and finally, they had taken action.” When my friend Tony said this sentence, these words struck me as the foundation of what the Arab Spring Project was about. Tony, a US citizen born and raised in Lebanon, still has family spread across the region and maintains close ties to his homeland. A Christian born in a land dominated by Muslims, he is an example that this was not a religious uprising, but an uprising of the oppressed against authoritarian governments. So what was the Arab Spring? Although there had been uprisings before 2010, the Arab Spring was a term coined by author Marc Lynch, in an article he wrong for Foreign Policy, an American political journal, to describe a series of events, protests, and uprisings in the southern and eastern Mediterranean.
On December 17th, 2010 when a street vendor in Tunisia, Tarek al-Tayeb, set himself on fire in protest of the deplorable treatment he had received at the hands of public officials and police. Within hours of his death, protests began in Sidi Bouzid, quickly growing surrounding areas and the capital, culminating in the flight of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the resignation of the prime minister. Within weeks, people in other countries began to resist authority as well, and one man’s act of defiance became the start of a wide spread revolution.
Although protests are still ongoing in some countries, at a minimum there has been significant upheaval throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa. Five governments overthrown, major protests resulting in governmental changes in several countries and at least two civil wars are the results, thus far, of the Arab Spring.