“Time” magazine has named “The Protester” as its Person of the Year for 2011.
Rick Stengel appeared on MSNBC’s “TODAY” show to announce the winner. He told anchors Matt Lauer and Ann Curry: “There was a lot of consensus among our people. It felt right.”
The magazine’s annual feature focuses on the person, or group, that has had significant attention throughout the year. This year, there have been protests across the globe, from Occupy Wall Street to the Arab Spring.
Stengel wrote: “No one could have known that when a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in a public square in a town barely on a map, he would spark protests that would bring down dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and rattle regimes in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain.”
Tunisian President Zine el Abidine and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak were driven from power after the people in their countries gathered for mass demonstrations. The protests lasted for weeks and brought new attention to the plight of the people under the dictatorships.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed while trying to hide and flee from rebels against his fallen regime. The ruler had been in power for over 40 years when Libyans began renewed calls for his oust. The United States offered support to the people, and Gaddafi was told to move aside. He was killed in October.
These countries are now taking steps toward democracy. Tunisia elected Moncef Marzouki as president; he was sworn in yesterday. Egypt is currently holding its first parliamentary elections in over 30 years, and Libya now has an interim government, with elections planned for 2012.
In the United States, Occupy Wall Street has been a prevalent force for change. It began with a few people gathering in New York in September and has morphed into a worldwide call for change. There are now Occupy movements in over 100 cities and demonstrations have taken place around the world.
“Time” magazine stated: “In 2011, protesters didn’t just voice their complaints; they changed the world.”