Flames Of Revolution: Catching Fire Arab Spring (Tunisian Revolution) – Vincent Dec 17th 2010 His screams echoed through back-alleys of Tunisia, as the blazing flames burned and blackened the blistering streets. A protest to the most extreme. It was controlled chaos. It was not gentle rain we needed, it was thunder. We needed a whirlwind, a perfect storm to blow away the miasma of corruption. And in our darkest times, it was not the light we needed, but fire. (Literally) Nausea rolled over me as I lurched forward. The stench of burning flesh. Beads of sweat rolled down my face as I gazed on at the horrific sight, desperately hoping I could rip my gaze from it, yet looking on in sick fascination, in some kind of gruesome wonder. He burned. The man burned himself. To do what? Protest against the government? Everybody knows about the corruption, but what can we do? For the first time in my life I, Hamada Ben Amor, was speechless. I felt sick to my stomach. I wanted to ignore it. To disassociate myself. He had nothing to do with me, I never knew him and now never will. And yet... Flashback Starts “Hamada! Hamada!” my brothers youthful voice rang out across the street as he sprinted towards me, barging his way past all foot traffic, earning a few curses on the way. I was happy to see him, until he was close enough that I could see the desperation in his eyes and the panic in his features. “They t-took him…He’s g-gone” he whispered, his eyes seeking comfort. “Ismael...who did they take. Tell me, now” The words fell out of my mouth as I feebly gripped
his shoulders, shaking him slightly. At that moment, Ismael looked more forlorn and lost than ever, as if the sun would never shine again. “Father…” I felt numb. This couldn’t be happening. Why was this happening? We barely scraped by with the food prices rising so high, we never spoke badly out loud about the government, and we paid the ridiculous “protection fees” of the local militia…So why… “They said t-that it wasn’t enough. That he was disrespecting them by paying such little tribute. They tried to take more and father fought them, but–” His breath hitched, his erratic breathing rattling around inside him. “There were too many militia…He was taken” His eyes wide, brimming with tears of grief and hate, taking on a look that chilled me to the bone… A haunted look that told me there was no good left in our world, and that there was no longer happiness in his. Rage bubbled up within me as I slowly got over the shock. Why us?! Why were we the ones chosen?! They couldn’t do this to my brother. It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this. He was supposed to live a good life. He was meant to have a chance to enjoy his life…in this family, he was the one who was meant to succeed. Funny, I had thought while I laughed bitterly, how life could be so cruel. In that moment, I made up my mind…No more. The corruption, the oppression, the “taxes”, the way they didn’t care…No more. So not quite knowing what to do I had sprinted towards the government buildings, leading me to the man who burned.
Flashback ends And in that moment, that moment I saw him burn…I saw his eyes. They were like mine. His expression, was the very one my brother had when saying our father was gone. this man burning could’ve been my brother, or even myself, pushed to the edge. I could no longer ignore him or his cause, because in that moment when I looked at him, I recognized him…I looked into
my own eyes, my brothers, and found a bit of ourselves in him. In that moment, this burning martyr seemed so very, very human. I have to do something.
Arab Spring (Tunisian Revolution) – Vincent Jan 4th, 2011 “Hamada Ben Amor…a pleasure to meet you. Wouldn’t it be SUCH a shame for something…unfortunate to happen to your little brother? Boy killed by antigovernment fanatic in Tunisian slums… Horrible headline isn’t it?” From somewhere in the ominous gloom, the silky, malicious voice drawled. The sound of his voice rang through the stale, stagnant air of a Ennour slums basement, hanging heavily over my head. I whirled around, or at least attempted to, before a sudden jarring blow to the back of my head snapped it forwards. “Wha-” A harsh white light exploded from behind my eyes, as my brain rattled around my skull. My head was being crushed in a vice. My face was propelled onto the rugged and rough stone. My cheek grazed the sharp ground, skin tearing easily. In the short span of 2 seconds, I was bleeding from two parts of my head…that can’t be good. Crimson blood oozed from the wounds, trickling through my hair, down my neck, mixing with the blood from my cheek. The overwhelming metallic scent filled the air, as my tormentor simply
laughed…though it quickly petered out as I attempted to get up. A boot connected with the back of my head, as I howled in pain. “You must really enjoy pain, the way you keep coming back for it…it seems I’ll have to teach you to stay down.” As I was down, the boot yet again pressed down…I gagged as my face was pressed down towards my blood that had been shed onto the floor. Taking a backseat in my head, I was unable to do anything as I watched myself forced onto the ground, and into the crimson liquid. I held my breath for as long as possible, horrified as the slightly warm liquid enveloped my face…Soon, with my lungs unable to withstand any more abuse, with my body in protest as it demanded air, I began thrashing and convulsing. I gasped for air, but none was there. This madman really planned to drown me in my own blood…As panic turned to numbness, my heartbeat slowed drastically, my eyes clouded over, and the events that brought me here flashed before my eyes. I sprinted through the alleys and streets, unheeding of any people I propelled myself into. This feeling of restlessness, of anger, would not allow me to sit by idly and watch the government ruin our country any longer. We live like dogs, told to speak without fear yet beaten and persecuted if we voice the truth. The cruel live like kings. From dawn to dusk each day, the only time we can eat is when we’re forced to eat our words, the only drink we have are the tears of the broken. This godforsaken country is going down the drain faster than a snow cone would melt in hell. Mohamed had burned, and died, but the flames of rebellion did not go out. Angry flames burned my insides. So once I reached my home, I vented the only way I knew how… Music. I hooked up my mic, and looped a beat. The flames crackled, rising from the pits of my stomach, and burning my throat. When I could contain it no longer, I opened my mouth, and let loose… “Mr. President, here, today I speak with you In my name and the name of all the people who live in misery…”
The song soon blew up, and I was ecstatic. People rallied around it in protests, they chanted it in the streets…I gave the people a voice. But then the Militia came…and took me away…So here I was.
Regaining consciousness, I woke up bruised, bloodied, and broken. I tried to move, and found I couldn't…I tried to open my eyes, and found they were to swollen to see through. I choked back a sob “I think you’ve learned your lesson…We will forgive your spreading of lies this once…Heed this warning Hamada” and he left.
Razed Earth: Rebuilding 14th January, 2011 The reign of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali is no more…his grip that blighted Tunisia has weakened. After 23 years of oppression, of cruelty, of webs of lies woven upon foundations of propaganda…we were free. It was exhilarating. And yet…Why was there this dark feeling weighing down on me? we survived…we finally made it. So why? Why did this dark cloud still cast its shadow over me? Mohamed’s flames had sparked revolution, set fire to the heart of the public, infecting them with his need to take action, to protest. And I, I created “Rais LeBled”, the rallying cry of the revolution, fanning the flames so to speak. Starting December 10th, in the short span of a few days, a full blown revolution was roaring to life. We had suffered through so much…We were oppressed, we were beaten, cheated, and starved. We were robbed of our jobs and our free speech…Yet somehow, we defeated the man who looked at us like dirt beneath his feet, who controlled us through fear and violence for 23 years, in about a month.
But was it worth it? The countless protestors left dead, crippled, mutilated, or traumatized…Was the rebellion worth all the pain and suffering it had caused? Tunisia was thrown into chaos, worse than it ever was under Ben Alis rule. Did I…do the wrong thing? I shook my head, and took deep breaths in an attempt to clear my mind, to rationalize. It had to be worth it. The people of Tunisia, MY people, were treated like animals. Like filth. I would not soil the memory of those who had died for the rebellion by questioning its worth, for that would be questioning their sacrifice. This rebellion was needed, and while right now our people are still scarred, still suffering and poor…though there are still loyalists attacking our people, attempting to bring us back under dictatorial rule...We will weather the storm, and when the skies clear, we will rebuild. It will all be worth it. The flames of rebellion had burned Tunisia to the ground and razed the earth…and on the ashes of the former reign, we shall rebuild.
Journal of Hamada Ben Amor during Tunisian Revolution (not 100% historically accurate)