While Egyptians are suffering from the government’s austerity policies and high prices for securing the $12 bn IMF loan, a taxi driver set himself on fire in front of an army center in Sidi Gaber, east Alexandria on Saturday, reportedly in protest against the country’s high prices and poor living conditions, as reported by Al-Arabi al-Jadeed.
According to witnesses, Ashraf Mohammed Shaheen, 30 years-old started criticizing the government and the country’s high prices, before pouring gasoline on himself and setting himself alight.
In response, one eyewitness aid that passers-by rushed to put out the fire and called an ambulance, which took him to Amiri Hospital.
The directorate of health affairs in Alexandria issued a statement, saying the man, Ashraf Mohammed Shaheen, was a 30-year-old taxi driver from Kafr El Dawar.
“The man’s condition is serious – he poured (gasoline) on himself, causing burns to more than 95 % of his body.”
Dr. Tarek Khalifa, the hospital director, said “his condition is in a dangerous situation. “The ambulance brought a young man suffering from third-degree burns all over his body, and carried out the necessary first aid, but a large proportion of burnt tissue has been destroyed, and this requires long-term treatment.”
Another man named Abdul Alim Muhammad Abdul Alim, 32, was injured while trying to save him.
The Egyptian citizen self-immolation has spread quickly on social media under the hashtag (#Bouazizi_Egypt). The hashtag is a reference to Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire in 2010 in protest against high prices and poor living conditions.
There has been a growing social media campaign in the country for mass anti-government protests on Friday 11 November known as “Revolution of the Poor”. The event is being organized by a Facebook page with the same name.
Days ago, a working class tuk-tuk driver, was interviewed in a broadcast on Amr Ellissy’s show on “One of the People” on the satellite TV station al-Hayat, where his three-minute long response summed up the frustration and humiliation many Egyptians feel under the rule of military-backed Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The short clip had garnered more than 4.5 million views on YouTube, and duplicates of it had tens of thousands more views on Facebook and Twitter.