Simon Tisdall suggests that last month, when Mohammed Bouazizi (twenty-six years old), “an unemployed graduate, set himself on fire outside a government building in protest at police harassment,” his act became the “rallying cause for Tunisia’s disaffected legions of unemployed students, impoverished workers, trade unionists, lawyers and human rights activists.” The reaction to his act of self-immolation and death on January 4th led to the flight of President Ben Ali ten days later to Saudi Arabia and to the end of Ali's twenty-three-year rule of Tunisia. Time reported the event as follows: “When Mohamed Bouazizi set himself alight on Dec. 17, 2010, he sparked flames far greater than the ones that would ultimately kill him.” Others seeking to change the world have imitated Bouazizi’s self-immolation in Egypt, Algeria, Mauritania, and Yemen. With the intoxication of revolution at hand, what kind of desperation motivates someone to end his own life in a suicidal act of protest?

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