A Tunisian football player passed away after self-immolating as a form of protest against "police injustice". Nizar Issaoui, aged 35, sustained third-degree burns during his demonstration in Tunis on Thursday, April 13. Although he was quickly transported to a burns center, medical professionals were unable to rescue him.
The news has sadly been confirmed by Issaoui’s brother in a short statement. It read: “He died yesterday [Thursday] and will be buried today [Friday].” Issaoui had previously published a video to Facebook confirming his intent to protest after he was accused of “terrorism” in the village of Haffouz, Kairouan, central Tunisia as he attempted to buy bananas amid an ongoing financial crisis.
Speaking on the video, he said, “For a dispute with someone selling bananas at 10 dinars, I get accused of terrorism at the police station. Terrorism for a complaint about bananas.” He also said he had sentenced himself to “death by fire.”
“I have no more energy,” he added in a statement. “Let the police state know that the sentence will be executed today.”
Following the news of Issaoui's demise, additional demonstrations erupted in the area. According to sources, conflicts erupted between protestors and law enforcement during the funeral proceedings, and tear gas was allegedly deployed. Subsequently, mourners were observed staging a protest outside a nearby police station.
Even ahead of the service, mourners gathered at his home and were seen chanting: “With our blood and with our soul we will sacrifice ourselves for you, Nizar.”
The incident was similar to that involving Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor who torched himself in December 2010 in the town of Sidi Bouzid after a policewoman confiscated his fruit cart, reported The Irish Sun.
Bouazizi's death sparked protests that ended with then Tunisia president Ben Ali's overthrow and inspired rebellions elsewhere in the Middle East.