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Did anything frighten you? How do you feel about the fact that your family name and life has become so public?
I am happy, I am proud, I was not frightened of anything. Even when Ben Ali was still here and the young people were rioting [in Sidi Bouzid] in front of the governorate, I feared no one. I have my honor, my dignity. I felt like I was dead even while I was alive. I'd hear about the people throwing stones at police, about the young, the old, women, men who were all participating, who all converged on the governorate and protested. I feared no one. I am proud of my son. He is a symbol, an important symbol. It is a great honor. During Ben Ali's time I was not afraid, so why should I be afterward? It has been a time full of pride, of symbolism.
How have you changed as a person during this period?
Praise be to God, I continuously pray for my son's soul. I have a martyr. I always ask mercy for his soul and the souls of all the martyrs. The main thing that changed was my country. Tunisia is now free. The people can now speak, defend themselves, complain. That is what I wanted, and I am very happy it has happened.
Were you surprised by yourself? Did you know that you had it in you to meet Ban Ki-moon, for example, and all these people? To become such a public figure?
Thanks to God, I have found myself in the middle of a huge event, a happy event, a proud event. I am very proud that the people are now free. This was a dream we dared not dream. And it has all come from God. Praise be to God. Perhaps he chose me to be the mother of a martyr. We are good people, simple people. We pray, we are religious. I have suffered a lot, I sacrificed a lot. I was very poor, a very simple person, a hard worker. It was hard. I worked hard, made sacrifices for my family. I didn't care how tired I was. Everything that comes from God is great. Praise be to him. He has made us proud of ourselves.
I saw a photo of you voting in the elections. Where did you vote? How was the experience? Did people recognize you? Did you go alone or did your children accompany you?
Actually, we were split. Some voted in a particular place, others elsewhere. My husband Ammar, Leila and I went to a local school here in La Marsa. Samia voted somewhere else.
How long did you wait in line to vote? What were you thinking?
I waited in line for four hours. There were many journalists around me. I was very happy, especially to see that everyone else was happy. People were ululating, whistling, clapping. I didn't spend all four hours in line. My daughter held my place, I sat in the shade on a verandah, watching all the people vote. Many people recognized me, welcomed me, said they were pleased to see me voting. All the people were saying, "It's Bouazizi's mother! It's Bouazizi's mother!" "May God rest Bouazizi's soul!" The people were happy, so happy! There were so many people, young, old. Many offered their place in line to me; they told me to move forward rather than wait. I told them, I am just one of the people. I will wait like everyone else. I waited until my turn came. I voted. It was great. People would come up to me and say, "We are all Bouazizi." "We are all Mohammad" "You are our mother too"
I honestly hope that other countries will be liberated the way that Tunisia is now free, all the other Arab countries. I hope that leaders will emerge who are worthy of their people, of their countries. I pray that God plants the seeds of mercy in the hearts of officials. I hope God will make other Arab people happy the way that Tunisians, Libyans and Egyptians are now happy. May God have mercy on all the martyrs.
I cried a lot. I cried so much. I beat myself until I was bruised. Basma often sees him in her dreams. I don't. I think it's because she has made peace with his actions. I cried so much, I was greatly affected by the words of many people, especially when they started spreading rumors about us, about receiving money. Basma saw Mohammad in her dreams. He asked her why I was crying. He is with us. He still lives with us.