A professional footballer in Tunisia has died after setting himself alight earlier this week as a protest against ‘police injustice’, his family said.
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.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has said Tunisia is experiencing its worst crisis in a generation, with inflation hovering around 11 percent and food becoming increasingly scarce.
The Tunisian government has been negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for a $1.9bn loan agreement. The country’s budget deficit was aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine.
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.’
Nizar Issaoui, 35, suffered third-degree burns from his action in the village of Haffouz in the central region of Kairouan, his brother Ryad told reporters.
He was taken from hospital in Kairouan to the specialist burns hospital in Tunis but doctors were unable to save his life.
‘He died Thursday and will be buried today.’ Ryad said.
Issaoui’s protest recalled that of street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, who burned himself to death on December 17, 2010, sparking the Tunisian revolution that was the trigger for the Arab Spring uprisings.
News of Issaoui’s death sparked protests on the streets of Haffouz on Thursday evening, Tunisian media reported.
Young demonstrators hurled stones at police who responded with tear gas.
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.
Watch the video below: