2011 witnessed an "Arab Spring" across western Asia and northern Africa. Thousands of protesters took to the streets demanding democratic reforms. Here, men in Yemen protest at Sanaa University. The man in the suit (to the left of the man holding "GO OUT") is holding an upside-down sign reading "The People Want the Collapse of the Regime." The sign behind it (left) says "The Blood of the People is not Cheap."

Photograph by Kate Dixon, MyShot
  • On December 18, 2010, the first protests of what became the “Arab Spring” took place in Tunisia. The Arab Spring was a series of populist protests against governments across the “Arab world”—Arabic-speaking countries in North Africa and the Middle East.
    Tunisians were driven to protest by the suicide of Mohamed Bouazizi. Bouazizi was a street vendor who set himself on fire to protest abuses of power by local officials and police. News of protests and protesters was shared through social media, especially Twitter. A year later, demand for government reform had spread to Algeria, Jordan, Oman, Egypt, Yemen, Sudan, Bahrain, Libya, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Protests in Djibouti, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, and Israel were also associated with the Arab Spring.
    Tunisia’s government was overthrown. The governments of Egypt, Libya, and Yemen also fell. Protests in Syria led to a brutal civil war that, as of December 2015, is ongoing.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    abuse Verb

    to treat wrongly, or in a harmful way.

    Arab Spring Noun

    (2010-ongoing) demonstrations and uprisings supporting democracy throughout North Africa and the Middle East.

    associate Verb

    to connect.

    brutal Adjective

    extreme, harsh, or cruel.

    civil war Noun

    conflict between groups in the same country or nation.

    government Noun

    system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

    overthrow Verb

    to forcibly remove from power.

    police Noun

    local, state, or national government organization for law enforcement.

    populist Noun

    person or idea that supports grass-roots democracy and activism.

    protest noun, verb

    demonstration against a policy or action.

    reform noun, verb

    change or improvement of a policy or process.

    social media Plural Noun

    online means of communication used by people to develop social and professional contacts.

    suicide Noun

    intentional taking of one's own life.

    vendor Noun

    someone who sells something.