The Protester named Person of the Year by Time Magazine

It wasn’t Kate Middleton, a celebrity or a world leader. In fact, Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2011 isn’t a person at all — it’s more of symbol. This year, making history wasn’t just for a handful of the elite. It belonged to everyday people who took to the streets demanding change — and on a scale that we haven’t witnessed in decades.

Sometimes we agreed and sometimes we just scratched our heads, but it’s hard to remember a week where there wasn’t a major protest making headlines. Time’s “The Protester” could be 26-year old Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian market vendor who set himself on fire to protest his treatment by local police. The Protester could be part of the “Arab Spring”, which has already toppled two regimes, or protests against austerity measures across Europe. The Protestor could also be camped out in a major city in support of the Occupy movement.

“The Protester” could be male or female, of any age and in any part of the world. One thing we do know for certain about this icon is that he or she is frustrated, fed up and willing to make sacrifices for change. In some places, The Protester faced violence, arrest and even death.

And we haven’t see the last of The Protester either.

“There’s this contagion of protest,” said managing editor Richard Stengel on NBC television when the cover story was announced. “These are folks who are changing history already and they will change history in the future.”

Want to know more? Watch managing editor Richard Stengel and Kurt Andersen (author of the cover story) discuss why the magazine decided to honour protesters this year:

Who else was a contender? The Protester beat out some pretty big names, including Kate Middleton (who needs no introduction), Admiral William McCraven (leader of the mission to capture Osama Bin Laden) and Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei, among many notable names.

To see the full story on The Protester and read about the runners-up, visit Time Magazine.

Do you agree or disagree with Time’s choice? Share your views in the comments.

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