From Tunisia to Syria, Egypt to Yemen, a wave of revolutions set the Arab world alight in 2011. Ten years on, our reporters take a look back at how the Arab Spring unfolded and reflect on their experience covering it.
It all started on December 17, 2010, when fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia after police confiscated his stall. The self-immolation sparked weeks of protests that led to the ousting of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power.
“To see that sea of humanity in the streets of Tunis was starkly showing us that all of a sudden a country was no longer afraid,” says FRANCE 24 presenter François Picard.
The so-called “Jasmine Revolution” had a domino effect throughout the Arab world, helped in large part by social media.
“These were countries where you didn’t used to protest against the regime, these were very repressive, autocratic regimes. So when this huge ground swell of popular uprisings started, you knew it had legs,” explains FRANCE 24’s senior reporter Catherine Norris-Trent, who covered the uprisings in Libya, Tunisia and Yemen.
Revolutions turn into war
What first started as protests, however, quickly turned into a full-fledged war in Libya, Yemen and Syria. Catherine Norris-Trent went back to Libya for FRANCE 24 several times over the years and says it has been sad to see the dreams of the revolution turn into chaos and violence.
“People are struggling today with unemployment, they’re struggling still with security concerns. There’s a lot of work to do,” she explains. But despite the disappointment, the Arab Spring brought hope to many people, and “once that hope is out there I don’t know if it can ever really be put down”, she continues.
Click on the player above to watch episode 5 of our video series “Covering”.