Footballer Dies at 35 After Setting Himself on Fire in Protest at “Police Injustice”

A Tunisian footballer has died after setting himself on fire in protest at “police injustice”, it has been announced.

Nizar Issaoui, 35, suffered third-degree burns on Thursday after protesting in Tunis. He was immediately taken to a specialist burns unit in the city but doctors were unable to save 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.”

The scene left onlookers screaming as shown in a video of the incident that went viral on social media.

Further protests broke out immediately after Issaoui’s death. Local media report that clashes broke out between protestors and police during the funeral, with tear gas reportedly being used.

Mourners were then seen protesting outside of a local police station in the immediate aftermath. 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.”

Issaoui was a free agent at the time of his death having previously enjoyed a successful career that had seen him represent US Monastir in the top-flight of Tunisian football. His protest emulated that of street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, who burned himself to death in December 2010.

The incident over a decade ago sparked a huge outcry across the country, and was thought to be the start of the Tunisian revolution. It also triggered the Arab Spring uprisings, which were responsible for toppling a number of regimes across the Middle East.

There has been no immediate comment from authorities regarding the incident that saw Issaoui sadly lose his life. The incident revolves around a financial crisis across the African nation.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has said Tunisia is experiencing its worst crisis in a generation, with the nation’s government thought to be in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a $1.9bn (£1.5bn) loan agreement. Tunisia’s budget has been hit hugely by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as Russia ’s war in Ukraine.

Original Article

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