July 4 marks the day American colonists declared their independence from the tyranny of British rule in 1776. A hard struggle to secure freedom followed, but the upstart American revolutionaries eventually prevailed.
The young people who began the “Arab Spring” revolutions last year understand that thirst for freedom — perhaps better than modern Americans, who enjoy liberty as a birthright.
It’s been more than a year since the early, heady days of the Arab protest movements. Governments and dictators have fallen or fled in multiple countries. In other places, regimes are struggling through change — or hanging on through violent suppression of revolt. But what’s happening behind the scenes? How is God working in the lives of young Arabs who will lead the next generation? Is it possible that they are seeking a deeper kind of liberty?
The first Arab revolution started in Tunisia. Here is the story of Shamal,* a young Tunisian whose life has changed radically. Now he knows what real freedom feels like.
Shamal: ‘For those who yearn to be free’
By Erich Bridges
TUNISIA—A harsh sun glares down on the dusty town square where Arab history changed one day.
It was Dec. 17, 2010, a day like any other in sleepy Sidi Bouzid, a provincial capital in southern Tunisia. But a young fruit vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi couldn’t take it anymore. Couldn’t take the frustration of paying bribes to local inspectors for the privilege of making a living. Couldn’t take the pressure of barely supporting his mother, disabled uncle and five siblings. Couldn’t take the humiliation of another day with little hope.
So on that day, he refused to pay the expected bribe.
*Name has been changed.
Erich Bridges is IMB global correspondent.