West News Wire: According to his family, a professional footballer in Tunisia who had earlier this week set himself on fire in a show of protest against “police injustice” has since passed away. 

Nizar Issaoui, a 35-year-old football player from Tunisia, had third-degree burns and was brought to a burns hospital in Tunis, where medics were unable to save his life, according to his brother on Friday. 

He passed away on Thursday and was buried today. 

Issaoui, a father of four and a former player for top-flight club US Monastir, posted a video on Facebook in which he said the cause of his protest was being wrongfully labeled as “terrorism” in the village of Haffouz, Kairouan, central Tunisia. 

Issaoui was a free agent at the time of his death after a career that saw him play for a range of clubs from the lower divisions to the top flight. 

Issaoui’s protest recalled that of street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, who burned himself to death on December 17, 2010, sparking the Tunisian revolution that was the trigger for the Arab Spring uprisings, which toppled authoritarian leaders across the Middle East. 

News of Issaoui’s death sparked protests on the streets of Haffouz, Tunisian media reported. Young demonstrators hurled stones at police who responded with tear gas. 

Issaoui decided to make his protest against the police after officers accused him of terrorism when he complained that he was unable to buy bananas for less than 10 dinars ($3.30) a kilogramme, double the price set by the government. 

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The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has said Tunisia is experiencing its worst crisis in a generation, with inflation hovering around 11 percent and food becoming increasingly scarce. 

The Tunisian government has been negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for a $1.9bn loan agreement. The country’s budget deficit was aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine. 

In a Facebook post shortly before his fatal action, Issaoui 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. Let the police state know that the sentence will be executed today,” he wrote. 


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