The Tunisian Model
Egyptian apathy has been a byword in the Middle East. As calls went out by Twitter, text message, Facebook and grapevine for a protest on Jan. 25, no one could have expected a response of more than ten thousand. But Tunisia’s success in ousting its U.S.-backed strongman made it suddenly seem plausible that Egyptians could do the same.
Once “the Tunisian model” was used to describe an authoritative state that provided the world system with “political stability, Western-Arab synthesis, and economic vision“. Now the term has taken on a new meaning — the capacity for people of all walks of life to assemble peacefully in defiance of state autocracy, in such numbers as to go beyond the capacity of normal state processes to handle them. The Tunisian revolution is still incomplete, and its future is unclear but that was true on Jan. 25th as well. The sight of Zine el-Abidine Ben ‘Ali fleeing from the just wrath of the people–which is how it was widely perceived in the Middle East–gave Egyptians the heart to try the same thing.