Mr. Tunisian Che Guevara was settled in front of his big flat screen television in his small but fancy apartment in the heart of Europe, when he suddenly stood stock still. Was he hallucinating after all he had been drinking (halal drinks) for several hours? But they looked real enough.
“Bread, freedom and national dignity”, the desperate protestors chanted on that cold December evening, while the police forces rained down on them with tear gas, live bullets and anything that came to hand to disperse the angry mobs. The people of his home country had stunned him. Without thinking twice he decided to dedicate the next couple of days to Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Al Jazeera behind his Mac book Pro computer screen as if he were in the middle of action. Many kilometers from his native land, Mr. Tunisian Che Guevara wished he were home, braving it alongside the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who lived and still live without basic services, a violent police and a not less violent weather.
Once Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia, Mr. Tunisian Che Guevara rushed to book a ticket on the first plane heading to Tunisia (though it was a bit expensive) for he would die to enable his people to live. More than 23,000 Tunisians who lost faith in their mother country meanwhile crossed over to the western hemisphere illegally looking for a surrogate mother country which would offer them a fairer future. High demands for visas to the European and Gulf countries spell out the disillusionment of young people after the newly elected government has done little to elevate people‘s lives. Since December 17, 2010, Mr. Tunisian Che Guevara and his clan have showered those people who have made it clear that their voices will not be silenced again, with promises of projects, forums, conferences, inspiring speeches and sometimes accusations, violence, detentions and intimidation.
Mr. Tunisian Che Guevara, the hero of the Tunisian revolution has bombarded us daily with TV appearances and radio interviews to tout his miraculous achievements after he has orchestrated the revolution and successfully overthrew one-man rule.
Mr. Che Guevara is any opportunist who has taken advantage of the suffering and the good intentions of the Tunisian people to deceive them into believing that once they stage a sit-in or demonstrate in the streets to demand the same basic goals of the revolution “jobs, freedom and national dignity”, they are unintentionally bringing the wheels of production to an end. Mr. Tunisian Che Guevara demands financial compensation for political prisoners under Ben Ali and Bourguiba in a state of economic stagnation as if political activism were a for-profit enterprise.
The Tunisian uprising is not only a revolt against the old regime; it is also a powerful act of defiance against any potential dictators to come.
This is a column for Arab Awakening's This week's window into the Middle East.