According to his brother, a professional footballer in Tunisia perished last week after setting himself on fire in what he claimed to be a protest against the “police state” that governs the nation. According to his brother Ryad, 35-year-old Nizar Issaoui suffered third-degree burns as a result of his actions in Kairouan’s Haffouz hamlet.
He was transferred from a hospital in Kairouan to a burns specialist hospital in Tunis, but his brother claimed that the doctors were unable to rescue him. On Friday, he was laid to rest after passing away on Thursday. Issaoui’s protest brought to mind that of Mohamed Bouazizi, a street seller who on December 17, 2010, set himself ablaze, sparking the Tunisian revolution, which in turn sparked
the Arab Spring protests, which overthrew authoritarian governments throughout the Middle East. Bouazizi’s death led to the Arab Spring revolutions. On Thursday night, according to Tunisian media, protests were sparked by news of Issaoui’s passing on the city’s streets.
Police were stoned by young protestors, and they fired tear gas in return. On Friday, fights of a similar nature broke out during the funeral. Before Issaoui’s funeral, a large crowd of mourners gathered in front of his home and yelled, “With our blood and with our soul we will sacrifice ourselves for you, Nizar.”
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The officials made no immediate comments. After a career that saw him play for a variety of clubs from the second tier to the top flight, Issaoui was a free agent at the time of his passing. Issaoui claimed he had decided to “death by fire” in a Facebook post made just before his fatal act. “I have run out of energy. Let it be known to the police state that the punishment will be carried out today,” he wrote.
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The police allegedly accused Issaoui of “terrorism” when he complained that he couldn’t get bananas for less than 10 dinars ($3.30) a kilogram, which is double the price set by the government. This prompted Issaoui to launch his extreme protest against the police, according to Tunisian media. In an online video selfie, Issaoui can be heard yelling, “For a fight with someone selling bananas for 10 dinars, I was accused of terrorism in the police station. Terrorism for a banana grievance.
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