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Despair stalks Tunisia, the 'Arab Spring' success story

Why are so many Tunisians setting themselves on fire?
Tunisia fire democracyEnlarge
A poster featuring Mohamed Bouazizi, the fruitseller whose self-immolation sparked the revolution that ousted a dictator in Tunisia and ignited the Arab Spring. (FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)

Tunisia is a cosmopolitan jewel of a country in the Mediterranean, and arguably the so-called Arab Spring's greatest success story. 

But the BBC today has an alarming report on the number of self-immolation cases since popular protests ousted Tunisia's dictator a year ago this month. According to the report, citing statistics not yet published by the Tunisian government, the country has seen a five-fold increase in self-immolation cases since Jan. 2011. 

More from GlobalPost: More self-immolations as anniversary of Tunisian dictator's overthrow nears

Tunisia's revolt, and the subsequent uprisings across the Arab world, started when a desperate and humiliated fruit vendor set himself alight in the rural Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid. 

The BBC reports:

They are mostly young men from poor, rural areas. They are also, generally, unmarried and have only basic education. Most importantly they are out of work and, despite strenuous efforts, they have little prospect of employment.

These are the young Tunisians who set themselves alight or self-immolate. They are acts of sheer desperation that usually lead to death within 48 hours or, if they survive, a life of agony for the men and their families.

More from GlobalPost: Tunisia votes for new democracy 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-casbah/despair-stalks-tunisia-the-arab-spring-success-story