April 13, 2024

Tunisian footballer Nizar Issaoui has died from burns sustained in a protest against “police injustice”, his family said, in which he set himself on fire.

He had appeared in a video posted online showing him shouting that he had been accused of terrorism by officers after a dispute with a fruit seller.

In a separate post, he said he sentenced himself to “death by fire”.

There were angry clashes at funeral of the 35-year-old on Friday in his home town of Haffouz, local media reported.

Issaoui had been accused of terrorism by police officers after he complained that he was unable to buy bananas for less than 10 dinars ($3.30; £2.66) a kilogram, double the price set by the government, reports say.

In a Facebook post, the footballer had written: “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… I have no more energy. Let the police state know that the sentence will be executed today.”

In protest, Issaoui burned himself to death.

Violence erupted at the footballer’s funeral as demonstrators threw stones at police who fired tear gas.

He was a former player for the Tunisian top-flight side US Monastir and a father of four.

His brother told local reporters that Issauoi suffered third-degree burns and doctors were not able to save his life.

His action was an echo of a 2010 protest when street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself alight. That kicked off a wave of demonstrations that led to the overthrow of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali the following year.

The current President, Kais Saied, sparked controversy in 2021 when he sacked the prime minister and suspended parliament. He has since pushed through a new constitution enshrining his dominance.

The Tunisian government has not commented on Issaoui’s death.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *