TUNIS, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Mohamed Bouazizi, the vegetable seller whose self-immolation inspired protests that toppled the Tunisian ruler, has become a “symbol of resistance” against Arab autocrats, his brother said.
“Freedom is expensive and my brother paid the price of freedom,” Salem Bouazizi told Reuters by telephone from the central town of Sidi Bouzid, where the revolt began.
Bouazizi set himself on fire on Dec. 17 after police seized the vegetable cart by which he earned his living, becoming a martyr to crowds of students and the unemployed protesting against poor living conditions.
The protests that brought down Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali were the first in generations to topple an Arab leader, sending a sharp signal to the rest of the region, dominated by autocratic regimes.
“My brother has become a symbol of resistance in the Arab world,” Bouazizi said. “We suffered very miserable conditions but now we are very satisfied that after my brother’s death, the dictator is dead.”
Bouazizi’s action has inspired copycat burnings in Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania and Egypt. [nLDE70G1B9]
Mohamed Fadel, a union leader in Manzel Bouazine, said he was proud his region was the birthplace of a freedom movement.
“Ben Ali is a lesson for those who have been very badly treated,” he told Reuters. (Reporting by Tarek Amara, Writing by Lin Noueihed)