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2 Egyptian Men Torch themselves to Draw Attention to Unemployment and Poverty

2 torch themselves in Egypt, taking cases to 10

 Published on January 18, 2011, 18:24


Two men set themselves ablaze in Egypt on Tuesday, security officials said, bringing to 10 the number of such cases in the Arab world, including a Tunisian whose action sparked a revolution.

An Egyptian security official said a 25-year-old unemployed man suffering mental problems set himself ablaze in the northern city of Alexandria on Tuesday, suffering third degree burns.

Another man set himself alight outside Egypt's government headquarters in Cairo, an official reported earlier on Tuesday. He was only slightly injured and taken to hospital.

The incidents follow a similar one in Cairo on Monday in which a man poured fuel on himself and set himself on fire on a busy street in front of the People's Assembly.

He was hospitalized but expected to be released in a day or two, officials said.

Egyptian police said on Tuesday they also arrested a man who was carrying cans of petrol near parliament in Cairo on the presumption that he was going to set himself on fire.

The fiery protests began in Tunisia on December 17 when 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi set himself ablaze. His death sparked an uprising and led to Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fleeing the country after 23 years in power.

Since then there have been nine other such incidents, believed to be copycat suicide bids.

Five of the later protests took place in Algeria which had also been the scene of violent protests over rising prices, twinned with unemployment.

In the latest in the north African country, a 36-year-old unemployed man set himself on fire near the Algerian frontier with Tunisia in the El Oued region, Algerian newspapers reported.

Another copycat immolation attempt also took place in Mauritania with a man burning himself outside the presidential offices in the capital Nouakchott.

The ouster of Tunisian strongman Ben Ali has left governments in the Middle East increasingly uneasy about the situation as opposition groups seek to take advantage of the upheaval in the north African country.

But Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit on Sunday downplayed fears that a Tunisian-style popular revolt could spread to other Arab countries, calling it "nonsense."

Egyptian protester dies after setting himself alight One of two Egyptian men who set themselves alight on Tuesday died later in the day after suffering third-degree burns. His suicide follows a spate of self-immolations across Africa in recent days. By News Wires (text)  

AP - Two Egyptian men, possibly inspired by events in Tunisia, attempted to set themselves on fire Tuesday in downtown Cairo, just a day after another man burned himself in front of parliament.

Police managed to quickly extinguish the fire engulfing lawyer Mohammed Farouq Mohammed el-Sayed after he set himself alight outside the prime minister’s office and he was rushed to hospital with minor burns. Police say he may have been protesting police inability to find his long missing teenage daughter.

TUNISIA 'Tunisia will be a spark provoking similar revolts'

France 24, January 19, 2011

  A second man, identified as Sayed Ali Sayed, attempted to do the same thing outside the nearby parliament building but was stopped by guards in the area. There was no word on his motive.  

Tuesday’s incidents come one day after protesters in Mauritania and Algeria set themselves alight in apparent attempts to copycat the fatal self-immolation of a Tunisian man that helped inspire the protests that toppled Tunisia’s authoritarian president.  

It also follows the self-immolation of an Egyptian man on Monday, who set himself on fire outside the parliament to protest the authorities’ denying him cheap subsidized bread to resell to patrons of his small restaurant east of Cairo.

The man survived with burns to his neck, face and legs.   While isolated, the incidents in Egypt, Mauritania and Algeria reflect the growing despair among much of the Arab public with no real means of expressing its dissatisfaction. They are deeply symbolic means of protest in a region that has little or no tolerance for dissent. 

 It was the self-immolation of Mohammed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old unemployed man in Tunisia, last month that sparked the tidal wave of protests that toppled President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on Friday.  

Ben Ali ruled with an iron fist for 23 years. Similarly authoritarian rulers across much of the Arab world have been in power as long or longer, like Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, in power since 1969; Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, in office since 1981; and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled that impoverished nation since he seized power more than 30 years ago.  

The stunning collapse of the Tunisian leader drew a litany of calls for change elsewhere in the Arab world, but activists faced the reality of vast security forces heavily vested in the status quo and hard-line regimes that crack down on dissent.  

But Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit ruled out the possibility that Tunisia’s political uprising will spread.  

Self-immolation as a method of protest is uncommon in the Arab world, where many associate it with protesters in the Far East or the Indian subcontinent. But Egyptian women in rural or poor urban areas have been known to set themselves on fire to protest violent husbands, abusive parents or an unwanted suitor.

Arab Protests Tunisian protest suicide sparks copycat protests in Algeria, Egypt

TUNISIA Prime minister takes over as Ben Ali flees Tunisian turmoil

TUNISIA 'Tunisia will be a spark provoking similar revolts'

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