A 35-year-old man named Nizar Issaoui sustained severe third-degree burns after carrying out his self-immolation act in the village of Haffouz, located in the central Kairouan region.
A 35-year-old professional footballer in Tunisia died after setting himself on fire in protest against the “police state” ruling the country. Nizar Issaoui suffered third-degree burns and was taken to a specialist burns hospital in Tunis but later died.
Issaoui’s brother, Ryad, told AFP that the incident happened earlier in the week in the village of Haffouz in the central region of Kairouan. “He died yesterday (Thursday) and will be buried today,” Ryad said.
Issaoui’s protest was reminiscent of Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation in 2010 that sparked the Tunisian revolution and Arab Spring uprisings, which led to the toppling of authoritarian regimes across the Middle East.
Issaoui had been a free agent at the time of his death, having played for several clubs. His career saw him play for a range of teams from the lower divisions to the top flight.
In a Facebook post shortly before his fatal action, Issaoui said he had sentenced himself to “death by fire”. “I have no more energy. Let the police state know that the sentence will be executed today,” he wrote.
According to Tunisian media, Issaoui decided to make his extreme protest against the police after officers accused him of “terrorism” when he complained that he was unable to buy bananas for less than 10 dinars ($3.3) a kilogramme, double the price set by the government.
A video selfie circulating on social media shows Issaoui screaming: “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.”
News of Issaoui’s death sparked protests in Haffouz on Thursday evening, with young demonstrators hurling stones at police who responded with tear gas. There was no immediate comment from the authorities.