Announcing the choice on NBC’s “Today Show,” Time Managing Editor Rick Stengel said that the nameless, female protester dressed in a traditional head scarf is intended to represent both the men and women around the world — and particularly in the Middle East — who risked their lives to bring about transformational change.
“They are changing history already and they will change history in the future,” he said, adding that the current wave of global protests can be traced back to protests in Iran two years ago.
“Iran prefigured what was going to happen in the Arab world. And then what happened in the Arab world did influence Occupy Wall Street, and Occupy Oakland, and the protests in Greece and Madrid,” Stengel told hosts Matt Lauer and Ann Curry.
The magazine cited dissent across the Middle East that has spread to Europe and the United States, and says these protesters are reshaping global politics.
Last year, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg got the honor.
Time’s “Person of the Year” is the person or thing that has most influenced the culture and the news during the past year for good or for ill. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke received the honor in 2009. The 2008 winner was then-President-elect Barack Obama. Other previous winners have included Bono, President George W. Bush, and Amazon.com CEO and founder Jeff Bezos.
Time said it is recognizing protesters because they are “redefining people power” around the world.