March 23rd, 2011
05:39 PM ET

The Tunisian fruit seller who kickstarted Arab uprising

Ivan Watson and Jomana Karadsheh

(CNN) - When cousins visit the Bouazizi family's humble cottage, they take turns paying homage to the family's most famous son - the man credited with kick-starting uprisings around North Africa and the Middle East.

"Kiss the martyr Mohammed," a woman says, as she holds her daughter up to a portrait of the young man, which hangs halfway up an otherwise bare wall. The large poster identifies Mohammed Bouazizi as "the spark of the uprising of dignity." It's not only his family that feels this way.

Several blocks away, another huge portrait of the 26-year old man hangs from the top of a golden monument in the center of Sidi Bouzid, alongside banners proclaiming it is now "Martyr Mohammed Bouazizi Square."

Many Tunisians call Bouazizi a hero for setting himself on fire outside a government building. He is credited with galvanizing ill-feeling against governments across the Middle East and North Africa into actions that has seen demonstrations, uprisings and revolution.

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