The Myth That Sparked These Mythical Arab Revolutions
Fedia Hamdi's slap which sparked a revolution 'didn't happen'
"It was the slap that started a revolution. When the Tunisian street trader Mohamed Bouazizi, 26, was slapped in the face by a female municipal inspector last December, he burned himself alive in protest and sparked a wave of anti-government riots that engulfed the Arab world.
True or false? The woman at the centre of the controversy has now denied hitting Bouazizi and claims she was wrongly imprisoned for four months. Fedia Hamdi, 46, who has not spoken publicly about the incident until now, told the Observer that she had been used as a political pawn by the former Tunisian president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. "I feel I was a scapegoat," she said. "I feel there has been a grave injustice and it hurts me to think that no one wanted to listen to my story."
After 111 days of incarceration, Hamdi was freed by a tribunal in her hometown of Sidi Bouzid last Tuesday after defence lawyers demolished the case against her. Hamdi was found innocent of all charges when it emerged in court that only a single person claimed to have seen the slap – a fellow street trader who bore a grudge against her – while four new witnesses testified that there had been no physical confrontation.
"I would never have hit him [Bouazizi]," Hamdi said, speaking from her parents' home in Meknassy, approximately 50km from Sidi Bouzid where the alleged incident took place. "It was impossible because I am a woman, first of all, and I live in a traditionally Arab community which bans a woman from hitting a man. And, secondly, I was frightened … I was only doing my job."
Riveting as the breaking news out of Cairo was last month, I feel we've all been conned.
For one thing, what did the protests do, except trade Mubarak for a military junta? Why is radical change underway, at least being attempted - only in countries not on empire's approved list?
Bahrain and Saudi Arabia get passes while Syria is constantly in the news.
Now in a court of law the originating incident that supposedly sparked uprisings first in Tunisia and then all over the Arab world was ruled to be a lie.
I wouldn't dispute that millions are chafing under despotic rule and economic disparity, but I think this wave of political unrest and journalistic blather has very suspicious origins. And the proof is Libya, a conflict of hypocrisy in the extreme.