Ten economic protests that changed history

10. Tunisia uprising – 2010/11

Christophe Ena/AP/File
Protesters chant slogans against President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunis Jan. 14, 2011. After demonstrators marched through the Tunisian capital Friday, Mr. Ben Ali fled the country, which led last month to the first free elections in North African history.

When Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in December 2010 because a policewoman had confiscated his only means of living – a vegetable cart – he sparked mass protests among young Tunisians frustrated with unemployment, high inflation, government  corruption, and the poor prospects for their future. Protests escalated in the streets throughout the country, and President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who had ruled for 23 years, tried to mollify protesters by stating he would not seek reelection. 

Protests continued to grow, leaving more than 300 dead.  Mr. Ben Ali fled the country Jan. 14, 2011, and was replaced by an interim government. In October, Tunisia witnessed the first free election in North Africa’s history. Many point to Mr. Bouazizi’s suicide as the impetus for the so-called "Arab spring," which unseated three North African strong men and sparked similar protests in other Arab nations. 

Which economic protests would make your Top 10?

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