Arab Revolutions: Personal Stories

Personal stories

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Local artists erected this monument in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, in memory of Mohamed Bouazizi. The self-immolation of Bouazizi, a local fruit seller, in protest of corruption set off demands for change in Tunisia &mdash; and sparked subsequent revolutions there and beyond.<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart A banner with an image of Mohamed Bouazizi hangs from the municipal building in front of which he set fire to himself last year. His suicide, after local officials humiliated him when he refused to pay a bribe, set off national and regional revolts.<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart Fruit sellers line a sidewalk near the spot where Mohamed Bouazizi, one of their own, set himself on fire to protest corruption. Bouazizi wanted to move up from a pushcart to a pickup truck. Those who remain have much higher hopes in the wake of the revolution he sparked.<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart Discussions are heated as Tunisians debate their future after the fall of long-time President Zine al Abidine Ben Ali. Some are seeking more than political change; they want spiritual freedom.<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart The Tunisian countryside near Sidi Bouzid, where Mohamed Bouazizi is buried, is quiet. The idea of a region-shaking social and political movement originating here seems improbable. But Bouazizi&rsquo;s suicide last year unleashed a wave that continues to wash across the Arab world.<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart After decades of fear and silence, freedom permeates the air in Tunisia. These young men enjoy speaking their minds at a sidewalk coffee shop in a Tunisian city.<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart Young Tunisians walk along Avenue Bourguiba in the heart of downtown Tunis, where demonstrations brought down the old regime. It remains the site of ongoing protests as secularists, Islamists and others debate the new constitution and the nation&rsquo;s future.<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart A carpenter crafts a window in the Medina &mdash; a maze of covered walkways winding through the oldest section of Tunis &mdash; much as carpenters before him have done for centuries in Tunisia. Only steps away, demonstrators debate the future of the nation.<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart Vendors in a caf&eacute; in Tunis&rsquo; Medina prepare fresh orange juice. Tunisia&rsquo;s economy has struggled since 2011&rsquo;s revolution, dashing the hopes of many young people who expected better jobs and greater opportunities to come quickly.<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart During the revolution in Egypt, graffiti on walls surrounding Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo was painted over by the military. Within hours, it would reappear. Eventually the authorities gave up trying to cover it, and it remains today.<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart In Cairo&rsquo;s Tahrir Square, a young Egyptian describes the demonstrations and violence that led to the downfall of longtime President Hosni Mubarak. The aftermath of the revolution continues as Egyptians elect a new president in June.<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart &ldquo;Mark,&rdquo; a young Egyptian Christian, shows the theological reading he is doing. Many Christians are leaving Egypt, fearing increased persecution from Islamists. Not Mark, who senses a strong call to spread the Gospel where it is unknown. When asked if he would ever consider leaving, he replies, &ldquo;Only to a harder place.&rdquo;<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart A Christian pastor in one of Cairo&rsquo;s heavily Muslim communities describes the uncertainties of the current political climate in Egypt. If Islamists close his church, he says, his congregation will meet in homes. But he is hopeful; his church has made many new friends in the community through service projects.<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart Despite hopes raised by the current presidential campaign, the uncertainty of the political climate weighs heavily on many Egyptians &mdash; particularly Christians, who don&rsquo;t know whether the new order will bring more freedom or more persecution.<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart A young man on a train in Cairo stumps for his candidate during Egypt&rsquo;s historic presidential campaign. It marks the first time modern Egyptians have had a real choice who will be their national leader. Whether it results in true freedom for them remains to be seen.<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart An Egyptian woman in Cairo wears an updated version of the traditional Muslim hijab head covering. Women hoping for greater freedoms since 2011&rsquo;s Egyptian revolution are still waiting for promises to be kept.<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart Schoolgirls enjoy a holiday outing with their teachers in a Cairo park. Egypt&rsquo;s millions of young people want more out of life than their parents dared to dream of. Will the promises of the &ldquo;Arab Spring&rdquo; and Egypt&rsquo;s revolution deliver it? Or do they seek something deeper?<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart The ruins of the Roman-era Temple of Hercules sit atop one of the seven hills on which Amman, Jordan, is built. This area has been inhabited for at least 12,000 years. Some 3,000 years ago, Uriah the Hittite, the husband of Bathsheba, likely was killed at the base of this hill by order of King David. Today the remains of successive kingdoms overlook a modern Arab capital responding to the tumultuous changes shaking Jordan&rsquo;s neighbors.<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart Social media played a key role in spreading the ideas that sparked the &quot;Arab Spring&quot; revolutions. Young Arabs, like these Jordanians, are increasingly connected, and their awareness of the wider world sparks their exponentially higher expectations.<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart A Christian father and son share a meal in Jordan. Will young Arab Christians experience greater freedoms as a result of the &ldquo;Arab Spring&rdquo; revolutions &mdash; or greater pressures?<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart A young Muslim woman discusses her future - and the future of the Arab world - at a coffee shop in Amman, Jordan. She wants greater opportunities than those traditionally available to Arab women.<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart Young men in Jordan discuss what&rsquo;s next in the Arab world after a year of dizzying change. Everyone has an opinion. Some hope for great progress; some expect little or none. But they all agree the region has shifted.<br /><br />Photo © 2012 IMB / Will Stuart