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Turmoil, then blossom


Q: Recently, I've often heard the term "Arab Spring." I know it has to do with the countries in the Middle East. Can you give me an answer as to what is meant by that? -- From a letter.

A: The term refers to a series of democratic uprisings, pro-democratic protests and demonstrations that have sprung up across the Arab world.

What is commonly referred to as the Arab Spring began in Tunisia in mid-December 2010, after street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in protest.

This sparked escalating violence throughout the nation and led to an overthrow of the government as longtime President Ben Ali fled the country.

Many other protests and demonstrations began to occur independently across the Middle East and North Africa, in response to which political writers and the media began using the term Arab Spring.

I believe the term "spring" is to imply the blossoming of democracy throughout the region.

This, of course, is a flagrant simplification of the turmoil experienced for years and years in the Arab world.

Eric Norris is the director at the Hays Public Library. "Ask Eric" questions can be mailed to 1205 Main, Hays, KS, 67601, submitted through www.hayspublib.org at the "Ask Eric" link or emailed to enorris@hayspublib.org.