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Tunisian events likely to spark wider Arab reforms, but not revolutions

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The result is "on a psychological level,” he adds. “All it takes now is a spark, one single soccer game in Egypt, or Jordan, or Algeria, to have a potential social uprising.”

'The end of an era'

Among apparent signs of that new dynamic are increasing reports of copycat suicide attempts in the past week. Four men are known to have burnt themselves in Algeria – one a father of six who did not receive housing benefits. One set himself alight in Mauritania. And in Egypt on Tuesday an unemployed man set fire to himself, becoming the third in the country to do so after a baker made a similar protest in front of the parliament building.

Street protests calling for political change and better lives have also erupted in Algeria and Jordan.

But while Tunisia was one of the most effective police states in a region of authoritarian and undemocratic rulers, it also boasts many characteristics that do not apply elsewhere. Tunisia has a strong, educated, and modern middle class – those young men and women who were on the streets and the front lines in Tunis – which nations like Algeria, Egypt, and Yemen don’t have.

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