A professional footballer in Tunisia has died after setting himself on fire to protest “police injustice” earlier this week, according to his family.
Nizar Issaoui, a 35-year-old football player from Tunisia, got third-degree burns and was taken to a burns hospital in Tunis, but his brother said on Friday that doctors couldn’t save his life.
“He died yesterday [Thursday], and he will be buried today.”
Issaoui, who used to play for the top team US Monastir and is a father of four, posted a video on Facebook in which he said that he was protesting because he was wrongly accused of “terrorism” in the town of Haffouz, which is near Kairouan in central Tunisia.
Issaoui was a free agent when he died. During his career, he had played for many different teams, from the lower leagues to the top flight.
Issaoui’s protest was similar to that of street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, who burned himself to death on December 17, 2010, starting the Tunisian revolution that led to the Arab Spring protests that toppled dictators all over the Middle East.
Tunisian media said that when people heard that Issaoui had died, they took to the streets to protest. Police used tear gas after stones were thrown at them by young protesters.
Issaoui chose to protest against the police because they had accused him of being a terrorist when he said he couldn’t buy bananas for less than 10 dinars ($3.30) a kilogramme, which was twice the price the government had set.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has said that Tunisia is going through its worst economic crisis in a generation, with inflation around 11% and food getting harder to find.
The government of Tunisia has been talking with the International Monetary Fund about getting a $1.9bn loan. The COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine made the budget gap even worse.