Tunisian footballer dies after setting himself on fire in protest against police

TUNIS – Tunisian football player Nizar Issaoui, 35, has died from burns suffered after setting himself alight earlier this week as a protest against “police injustice”, his family said on Friday.

Issaoui, a former player for top-flight side US Monastir and a father of four, published a video on Facebook in which he said the reason for his protest was being falsely accused of terrorism in Haffouz, Kairouan, central Tunisia.

The striker, who was a free agent and playing in the amateur leagues before his death, suffered third-degree burns and doctors weren’t able to save his life, his brother Ryad told reporters.

Local media said that Issaoui decided to make his extreme protest outside a police station after officers accused him of “terrorism” when he complained about the price of bananas.

A video selfie circulating on social media shows Issaoui screaming: “For a dispute with someone selling bananas at 10 dinars ($4.38), I get accused of terrorism at the police station. Terrorism for a complaint about bananas.”

The incident was similar to that involving Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor who torched himself on Dec 17, 2010, in the town of Sidi Bouzid after a policewoman confiscated his fruit cart.

Bouazizi’s death sparked protests that ended with Ben Ali’s overthrow and inspired rebellions elsewhere in the Middle East.

Huge protests from the player’s family have followed, and a large number of citizens gathered in front of the police station where the incident took place. REUTERS


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