The news was confirmed by Issaoui’s brother in a short statement. He said, quoted by the Mirror, that the footballer who played in the Tunisian first league died on Thursday and was buried on Friday. Issaoui had previously posted a video on Facebook confirming his intention to protest after being accused of “terrorism” in the central Tunisian village of Haffouz, Kairouan, while trying to buy bananas amid the country’s financial crisis.
In the video recording, he said: “For a dispute with someone who sells bananas for 10 dinars, I am charged with terrorism at the police station. Terrorism for a complaint about bananas.” He also said that he condemned himself to “death by fire”.
“I have no more energy,” he added in a statement. “Let the police state know that the sentence will be executed today”.
The scene caused horror to those who witnessed the self-immolation, as shown in a video recording of the incident that became viral on social networks.
Other protests erupted immediately after Issaoui’s death. The local press reports that clashes broke out between protesters and the police during the funeral, with tear gas being used.
In the immediate following period, mourners were seen protesting in front of a local police station. Even before the service, mourners gathered at his home and were heard chanting: “With our blood and soul we will sacrifice ourselves for you, Nizar.”
Issaoui was out of contract at the time of his death, having previously enjoyed a successful career representing US Monastir in Tunisia’s premier league. His protest mimicked that of street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire in December 2010.
The incident more than a decade ago sparked a major uprising across the country and was considered to be the beginning of the Tunisian revolution. It also sparked the Arab Spring uprisings, which were responsible for toppling several regimes in the Middle East.
Authorities did not immediately comment on the incident that killed Issaoui. The cause of the incident is the financial crisis in this African nation.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has said Tunisia is facing its worst crisis in a generation, and the Tunisian government is reportedly in talks with the International Monetary Fund for a $1.9 billion loan deal. Tunisia’s budget was enormously affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
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