Tunisian football player Nizar Issaoui died this week after setting himself on fire to protest “police injustice,” his family said.
Issaoui, 35, a former player for top-flight side US Monastir, shared a video on Facebook saying he decided to protest after he was falsely accused of terrorism by police officers in Haffouz, Kairouan, central Tunisia.
The forward had complained that he was now unable to buy bananas since they cost double the price set by the government, sparking allegations of “terrorism” from officers and prompting him to protest outside a police station.
A video circulating on social media shows Issaoui screaming: “For a dispute with someone selling bananas at 10 dinars ($3.29), 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,” he said.
In a separate post, the father of four said that he sentenced himself to “death by fire” before setting himself aflame.
Issaoui was rushed to a hospital with third-degree burns, but doctors were unable to save his life, and he died on Thursday, his brother Ryad told reporters.
“He died yesterday and will be buried today,” Ryad said on Friday.
Police and angry protestors clashed during Issaoui’s funeral in his hometown, Haffouz, with demonstrators throwing stones at officers who, in exchange, fired tear gas to try and tame crowds.
His family was among protesters, who gathered outside the same police station where he set himself on fire.
Issaoui was a free agent and played in the amateur leagues before his death.
Issaoui, who was a father of four, died in a similar fashion to Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor who torched himself to death in 2010 after his fruit cart was confiscated by police.
Bouazizi’s death sparked protests that concluded with President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s overthrow the following year.
With Post wires.