In one account, it was stated that street vending is illegal in Tunisia. Because of this city authorities regularly confiscated Bouazizi’s small wheelbarrow of fruit. But Bouazizi had few options to try to make a living, and he bought his merchandise by getting into debt. He had contracted approximately $200 USD in debt to buy his merchandise. So he went to regional government headquarters to try to plead his case with the governor. Failing this, Bouazizi then bought two bottles of paint thinner and set himself alight in front of the building
On Friday December 17, 2010 Mohamed Bouazizi set himself alight and he died seventeen days later at 5:30 pm local time on Tuesday January 4, 2011 at a hospital in the town of Ben Arous at the Burn and Trauma Centre.[. 5,000 or more people took part in Bouazizi's funeral procession through Sidi Bouzid to his nearby village, union official Kamel Laabidi said. But police prevented the procession from passing near the spot where Bouazizi set himself on fire. Bouazizi was laid to rest at Garaat Bennour cemetery 10 miles from Sidi Bouzid
It was also conjectured that Bouazizi didn't have the funds to bribe the police officials to allow his street vending to continue. Authorities said that Bouazizi lacked a required permit. However, no permit is needed to sell from a cart, said Hamdi Lazhar, the head of Sidi Bouzid's state office for employment and independent work. Salem and Samia Bouazizi accused authorities of trying to extort cash from their brother.
It has also been reported that Mohamed Bouazizi was publicly humiliated when a woman municipal official slapped him in the face and spat at him, confiscated his weighing scale, and tossed aside his fruit and vegetables cart. Her gender made his humiliation worse due to expectations in the Arab world. "From that moment, he became angry," his cousin, Rochde Horchane, said.
In another account, on December 17, 2010, the police confiscated his wares, ostensibly because Bouazizi did not have a vendor's permit. Some sources report that the police slapped him and otherwise harassed him.. Later the same day, Bouazizi tried to lodge a complaint with municipal authorities, apparently to no avail. He left a message for his mother on his page asking her to forgive him after losing hope in everything. He then acquired a can of gasoline, doused himself in front of a local government building, and set himself alight. He was then transferred to a hospital near Tunis, where he eventually succumbed to his wounds on January 4, 2011
After his suicide attempt, unrest broke out in Sidi Bouzid. The police cracked down on the protestors, which only fueled the movement. The revolt eventually spread to the capital city.
On January 14, the masses of protestors prevailed as President Ben Ali fled the country amid escalating violence and opposition.
During Bouazizi’s funeral, Agence France Presse reported that marchers chanted “farewell, Mohamed, we will avenge you. We weep for you today, we will make those who caused your death weep.”