There are some wonderful scenes on our TV screens once again as we see Libyans joyfully celebrating the imminent fall of the dictator Gaddafi. At the start of the year it was Bin Ali in Tunisia who fled the country to seek refuge in that den of thieves and scoundrels, Saudi Arabia. Then Husni Mubarak fell in Egypt amidst a tremendous show of people power in Cairo. And now, with a little help from NATO, the Libyan people are about to be free of their own despot.
At this moment, it is worthwhile remembering Muhammad Bouazizi, the poor 26-year-old Tunisian fruit-seller, who after being repeatedly harassed and humiliated by the authorities, set himself on fire in protest. It was his act of martyrdom that led to the rise of the opposition movement which toppled Bin Ali and inspired so many millions in the Arab world.
Suicide is rightly shunned in Islam. But who can deny that Muhammad Bouazizi must have been at his wits end through working all hours to help provide for his family while being repeatedly tormented by the authorities? Who can deny that his death helped galvanise the Tunisian opposition and inspire millions of young people into demanding a better and freer future? May God have mercy on Muhammad Bouazizi, the martyr.