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At Bouazizi Home in Tunisia, Mubarak Fall Cheered in Birthplace of Arab Protest

Tarak Amera

On December 17, 2011, twenty-six year-old Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi lit the fuse that ended his life and ignited the current unrest sweeping the Middle East. Bouazizi, a street vendor, set himself on fire in despair and in protest of his treatment at the hands of local authorities. Earlier, officials had seized his wheelbarrow full of produce and beaten him in public. The tragic circumstances surrounding Bouazizi's self-immolation sparked protests in his rural hometown. The protests, which sometimes turned into violent riots, quickly spread to other areas and the capital, Tunis.

TUNIS -  Guests poured into the house of Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian vegetable seller whose suicide set off a chain reaction across the Arab world, to congratulate his family on Friday on the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Bouazizi set himself on fire in December when police confiscated his goods and scales. His desperate act launched a wave of protests that toppled Tunisia's President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January and helped inspire the popular uprising in Egypt. [ID:nLDE70J0B6]

Shortly after Mubarak's resignation was announced, an emotional Salem Bouazizi, Mohamed's brother, spoke with Reuters by telephone from the town of Sidi Bouzid.

"If Arabs truly appreciate Mohamed Bouazizi then they should always be free and reject dictatorships. I'm so proud that the Arab revolution started right here, from this house in Sidi Bouzid. We are extremely happy that Mubarak has left. Hundreds of people are visiting us to congratulate us," he said.

"I congratulate all Egyptians and I'm happy that they too will have their freedom after we too clinched ours. My brother Mohamed attempted suicide on a Friday, Dec. 17, Ben Ali fled on a Friday in January, and Mubarak quit on a Friday in February: three unforgettable months," he said.

In the capital Tunis, about 3,000 people gathered near the Egyptian embassy, carrying Palestinian, Egyptian and Tunisian flags and chanting: "One, two, three, viva democracy". (Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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