- By Blake Hounshell
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.
Reports are coming in that an Egyptian man has set himself on fire in front of the Parliament building in Cairo. According to AFP, citing a source in the legislature, he "stood outside the People’s Assembly, poured fuel on himself and set himself on fire." (Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reports that the man first shouted, "Security service, my rights are lost in this country.")
Are we now seeing a trend? Tunisia’s unrest was sparked by the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a university graduate turned street vendor who burned himself to death after being harrassed and humiliated by local police. In recent days, as many as four Algerians have set themselves on fire to protest their country’s economic conditions.
There is something horrifying and, in a way, moving about these suicide attempts. It’s a shocking, desperate tactic that instantly attracts attention, revulsion, but also sympathy. Even Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, the now ex-president of Tunisia, tried to show his concern by visiting Bouazazi in the hospital — and directed the state press to release a photo of the encounter. (Obviously, it didn’t earn him many points on the Tunisian street.)
Just yesterday, in an unfortunate turn of phrase, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit dismissed speculation that Tunisia-style protests would spread to Egypt. “Those who are promoting fantasies and trying to ignite the situation will not achieve their goals and will only harm themselves," he said.
UPDATE: Now we can add Mauritania to the list.