A man set himself on fire, in protest at corruption and deteriorating living conditions, in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt. Thursday’s incident has been compared with the self-immolation of Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi in 2010, believed to have been the trigger for the Arab Spring.
The Egyptian national, who identified himself as Mohamed Hosni, in a 20-minute video broadcast on Facebook, had complained about his financial and living conditions. He said his adverse circumstances came about as a result of his attempts to uncover government corruption. Just before setting himself alight he said he had been fired from his job at a bank and that National Security forces had imposed a hefty fine on him, “I have nothing to cry about. My life has been ruined. I have been unjustly fired from my job and unjustly blocked from returning to it.”
Police and passers-by managed to put out the flames before the blaze grew too severe.
The Middle East Eye reports that the man had been shouting slogans against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s government, which he had accused of being led by a “thief”.
Following his live video, several pro-government media houses described Hosni as “mentally unstable” and as an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood, posting a video interview in which his wife claimed that she has filed for divorce due to his mental instability since he lost his job. The MME reports that it was unclear whether she had been pressured to make those statements, as Egyptian security services have reportedly often been accused of recording forced confessions.
Activists, meanwhile, tweeted in solidarity with Hosni, under the hashtag: “The Egyptian Bouazizi”. They disputed claims that he was affiliated with the Brotherhood, as did Sami Kamal al-Din, an Egyptian journalist and anti-government activist living in exile. He posted an image of Hosni carrying a protest sign in 2013 that accused the Brotherhood of working with remnants of the Mubarak regime.
Umm Muhammed Umar