The continuing political crisis in Tunisia which lead to an upheaval in the government were caused by popular protests first sparked Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old unemployed college graduate, who set himself on fire in protest. He has since died. Self-immolation has suddenly become a method of protest of choice as reports are coming in of similar incidents happening in Egypt, Algeria and Mauritania.
In Egypt on Monday, Abdou Abdel-Monaam Hamadah, a baker from a town outside Cairo, set himself on fire outside the parliament building in the capital. Apparently motorists passing by managed to quickly douse the flames with fire extinguishers and Hamadah only has light burns. According to reports, Hamadah was protesting a government policy preventing restaurant owners from buying cheap subsidized bread to resell to their patrons.
In Mauritania 43-year-old Yacoub Ould Dahoud who said he was unhappy with the government, drove to a government building in the capital and torched himself in his car. Police rushed him to the hospital with severe burns. Newspapers are saying that Dahoud started a Facebook page where he praised Bouazizi and vowing to never forget him. He went to complain about the corruption and tyranny in his country and demanding freedom for the people.
In Algeria on Sunday, three people reportedly set themselves on fire in protest. Algerians are frustrated over the economy, rising food prices and how they perceive the government not responding to their needs.
January 17, 2011
CAIRO — An Egyptian man set himself on fire Monday outside the country’s parliament, security officials said, in an apparent protest emulating the self-immolation of an unemployed Tunisian man last month that helped trigger a popular uprising.
Egyptian security officials said policemen guarding the parliament building in central Cairo and motorists driving by at the time used fire extinguishers to quickly put out the blaze engulfing the man. Health Ministry spokesman Abdel-Rahman Shahine said the man was taken to the hospital with light burns, mostly to his face, neck and legs.
The officials identified the man as Abdou Abdel-Monaam Hamadah, a 48-year-old owner of a small restaurant from Qantara, an area close to the Suez Canal city of Ismailia east of Cairo. They said Hamadah was protesting a government policy preventing restaurant owners from buying cheap subsidized bread to resell to their patrons.
A subsidized loaf of typical Egyptian flat bread sells for about 1 U.S. cent apiece, but sells for five times that much to restaurant owners.
Hamadah asked policemen guarding the parliament building to meet speaker Fathi Sorour, officials said. When they refused, Hamadah stepped back, took out a bottle filled with petrol from his pocket, doused himself with the liquid and set himself alight.
The policemen and passing motorists rushed to him with fire extinguishers to put out the flames.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
The website of Egypt’s leading Al-Ahram daily said Hamadah was a father of four and had repeatedly entered heated arguments with local officials over the bread issue.
Hamadah’s act follows that of Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old with a university degree, who set himself on fire after police confiscated the fruits and vegetables he was selling without a permit. He later died in a hospital near Tunis, and his desperate act touched a nerve with educated, unemployed youths nationwide in Tunisia, and sparked the mass protests that toppled President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
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