Tunisian footballer Nizar Issaoui dies after setting himself on fire in protests against police
A professional footballer in Tunisia has died after setting himself on fire earlier this week in what he said was a protest against the “police state” ruling the country, his brother said Friday, April 14.
Tunisian media reported that Issaoui made his extreme protest after police accused him of terrorism when he complained he couldn’t buy bananas at less than 10 dinars (US$3.3) per kilogram. This was double the price set out by the government.
In a video selfie that circulates on social media, Issaoui screams: “For a dispute over someone selling bananas for 10 dinars I am accused of terrorism by the police station.” “Terrorism because of a complaint over bananas.”
Ryad Issaoui’s brother Nizar Issaoui told reporters that Nizar Issaoui suffered third-degree burning from his actions in the village of Haffouz, in the central region of Kairouan.
He was taken from the hospital in Kairouan to the specialist burns hospital in Tunis but doctors were unable to save his life.
“He died yesterday (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.
At his death, Issaoui was a free agent. His career saw him play for a range of clubs 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.