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Tunisia: Protests as journalist self immolates

December 26, 2018

Journalist Abderrazak Zorgui set himself on fire and called for a revolution over poor living conditions and corruption. His death has triggered protests in a provincial city that threaten to spread.

Protesters clash with riot police during demonstrations, in Kasserine
Image: Reuters/A. Ben Aziza

Clashes between protesters and police erupted for the second day in Tunisia on Tuesday after a journalist set himself on fire to protest poor living conditions in the North African state.

Journalist Abderrazak Zorgui posted a video online before his self-immolation in the provincial city of Kasserine, in which he lamented unemployment, poverty and corruption.

"For the sons of Kasserine who have no means of subsistence, today I start a revolution. I am going to set myself on fire," Zorgui said in the video. He died Monday after being taken to hospital.

Tunisian protests in Kasserine
Police patrol the streets after clashes in KasserineImage: picture alliance/AP/M.B. Salah

His death sparked protests Monday night as youth set tires ablaze and blocked streets, prompting police to fire tear gas. Six police officers were injured and several protesters arrested.

After Zorgui's funeral on Tuesday renewed clashes erupted in impoverished city, some 270 kilometers (165 miles) from the capital Tunis. Authorities also deployed reinforcements on the main streets of Kasserine.

The National Union of Tunisian Journalists said Zorgui had died protesting "difficult social conditions ... and a lack of hope." The union was considering a strike.

The self-immolation was reminiscent of that of street vendor Mohamed Bouaziz, who set himself on fire eight years ago to protest unemployment, corruption and repression.

His death triggered the Arab Spring protests that toppled longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and unleashed a chain of similar movements throughout the Middle East.

Despite Tunisia's democratic transition the country has suffered from low economic growth, corruption, poor living conditions and an al-Qaeda and "Islamic State" presence.

cw/aw (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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