Arab World: Copycat Self-Immolation Acts Should Not be Encouraged

Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi burnt himself to death in protest against unemployment, sparking an uprising which brought down the rule of Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali's 23-year-old regime in less than one month. Since then, up to 10 cases of self-immolation were reported in Mauritania, Algeria and Egypt, where people are protesting against unemployment, the rising cost of living and corruption, among other grievances.

This video, from YouTube user, mohsmedkhattab2004 shows one incident from Egypt:

Netizens from across the region are calling for an end to this practice, before it takes root.

@tatn explains:

@ Self-immolation shld Not b referred as a “trend” as in fashion! It's a Tragic measure to call 4 socio-poli+eco. changes

Saudi writer Turki Al Dakhil pleads with Arab young people:

يا شباب العرب لا تظنوا ان إحراق أجسادكم سيكون مخرجا من الأزمات بالضرورة. بعض حكامنا العرب يفكر ان يصرف جالون بنزين لكل شاب عربي ليرتاح منا!
Dear Arab youth, don't think that burning yourself is necessarily an exit from crises. Some of our Arab rulers are ready to provide a gallon of oil for every Arab young man in order to get rid of them

From Qatar, Mohammed Bin Hamad wonders:

And when does the human being consider death to be a relief and living to be intolerable?

He continues:

..does life become so unbearable that you feel the need to set yourself on fire? At what point does “life” become so worthless?

And Sou Hammamet, from Tunisia, adds:

absolutely, suicide is HARAM (Islamically unlawful). it is a shame that it has been politicised.

To such sentiments, mashahed, from Egypt, responds:

حرق النفس أمر مفزع ولا ينبغي الفرح به تحت أي ظرف، لكن نعت اللي بينتحر احتجاجاً على الذل والفقر والبطالة بالكافر هو أقذر شئ ممكن أي حد يعمله
Self-immolation is petrifying and should not be celebrated under any circumstances. But to call those who commit suicide in protest against humiliation, poverty and unemployment an infidel is the most disgusting thing anyone can do

Back in Tunisia, Dody G., from nomadlife, blogs about one of the Egyptian copycat self-immolation acts and notes:

Just because it triggered the Tunisian uprising, it doesn't mean this kind of action will trigger similar uprising in Egypt. The tension in Egypt has been steadily rising for the past days and there seems to be a giddy anticipation that something is going to happen. There's already an organizing happening on Facebook to do a demo on January 25 (Police Day) and almost 50,000 people have already confirmed attendance. Over 700,000 people invited still hasn't confirmed yet.

In a follow up post, he remarks:

Dammit. You can't replicate the spark just by replicating the method. Stop burning yourself.

Back on Twitter, Saudi Fouad Alfarhan says he is looking for new friends, after his contacts starting taunting him with a request:

مجموعة من الأصدقاء الخبثاء تواطؤا على إرسال رسائل جوال لي خلال 24 ساعة يطالبوني بإحراق نفسي عشان البلد #Looking4NewFriends
A group of my evil friends have been sending me text messages on my mobile phone over the previous 24 hours asking me to burn myself for the sake of the nation

Egyptian ANaje suggests that politicians start setting themselves on fire instead. He tweets:

أنا شايف انه فعلا لو ايمن ونور وحسن نافعة وعبد الحليم قنديل ولعوا في نفسهم عند مجلس الشعب.. الثورة هتقوم
I see that if Ayman, Noor, Hassan Nafea and Abdulhalim Qandeel lit themselves up in front of the Parliament, the revolution will start

Fellow Egyptian Mosab Ahmad adds:

كل واحد بيحب مصر يبعت جواب لقصر الرئاسة فيه عود كبريت وورقة مكتوب فيها “يا تحرقني يا ترحل” #Egypt
All those who love Egypt should send a match stick to the Presidential Palace with this message: “You either burn me, or you leave.”

Further reading:

Time: A Brief History of Self-Immolation

Foreign Policy: Suicide for a Cause

The number one cause for suicide is untreated depression. Depression is treatable and suicide is preventable. You can get help from confidential support lines for the suicidal and those in emotional crisis. Please visit to find a suicide prevention helpline in your country.


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