His gesture recalls that of the precarious worker who had been the trigger of the revolution of 2011. A man tried to kill himself by setting himself on fire in the city center of Tunis this Saturday, according to Civil Protection and witnesses . This 35-year-old man “set himself on fire on Avenue Habib Bourguiba, he has third degree burns and he was quickly transferred to the hospital for serious burns”, said Civil Protection to the ‘AFP.
He suffers from “burns all over his body,” said Civil Protection spokesperson Moez Tria, adding that he could not say more about his personal situation or his motivations. It was not possible for AFP to obtain further information on his condition from the hospital for severe burns in Ben Arous, where he is being treated.
Passers-by try to rescue him
According to a witness interviewed by AFP on condition of anonymity, the man arrived on the avenue that crosses the center of Tunis, accompanied by another, younger. They tried to get the attention of journalists who were there and the older one then took out a bottle filled with a flammable product, sprayed himself with it and set it on fire with a lighter, according to this witness. Passers-by tried to grab the lighter, but the man started running in the middle of the busy cafe terraces. He was rescued by people who tried to extinguish the fire with the means at hand, before the firefighters intervened. The police set up barriers behind which an AFP journalist could see the man’s charred sneakers, a few minutes after his immolation.
This gesture therefore echoes that of Mohamed Bouazizi, the 26-year-old street vendor who set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, triggering the Tunisian revolution which ended the reign of President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and giving the kickoff to the Arab Spring revolts in other countries in the region.
Last Saturday, Neji Hefiane, a 26-year-old young man injured in the 2011 Revolution, died after setting himself on fire two days earlier in front of his family in a working-class suburb of Tunis, told AFP his family on Monday. Without work, he was in theory entitled to compensation and various benefits as a “wounded” of the revolution.