Arab Spring comes to Occupy Montreal on Victoria Square

Arab Spring in Egypt. Photo from:

On December 17, 2010, a young Tunisian man named Mohamed Bouazizi had set himself on fire in what then seemed to be a futile a protest against the dire economic situation in his country. He died from his burns, but that fire ignited the Middle East and gave birth to Arab Spring, a loosely organized movement of young and disenchanted people who toppled the autocratic regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and are still generating unrest in such countries as Syria, Yemen and Bahrain.

Less than a year later, on October 15, 2011, these fires have reached Montreal in the form of the Occupy movement, which started with Occupy Wall Street in NYC and quickly spread to over 190 cities worldwide, including Occupy Montreal.

While some might argue against it, the similarities between Arab Spring and Occupy movements are striking. In both cases the protests are mainly against the deteriorating economic situation, as well as the wealthy elites who make it even worse. In both cases the movements are largely decentralized, with the Internet serving as main tool of organization. And then there’s the protesters themselves: mostly young, educated and active people, fed up with the politicians’ lies and their influence over their lives, using peaceful protest tactics to reach their goal.

occupy montreal
Occupy Montreal. Photo by Evelyn Reid from

And while we here in Montreal largely do not suffer from the same economic problems that afflict the Middle East or the United States, most folks would agree that life here is becoming more expensive, while wage raises do not seem to match the tempo of inflation. And our reliance on our big American brother leaves Canada extremely vulnerable to changes in global economy.

The Arab Spring is not over yet, but several important milestones and historic precedents were already reached. Governments were toppled, while dictators were removed from power, allowing the people to exercise what seems to be a kind of a viral popular democracy. And now half way across the world from Tunisia several hundred people are camping out on Victoria Square in downtown Montreal. And I, for one, am certain that there is more to come.

P.S. For further local developments make sure to follow our blog’s Occupy Montreal news section!


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Categories: Arab Spring, Occupy Montreal, Politics


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