In an incident similar to the one that started the “Arab Spring” protests three years ago, a 32-year-old man from a poor neighborhood of the Tunisian capital set himself on fire outside a government building on Monday.
AFP reported that the man was rushed to a specialist medical clinic in a suburb of Tunis for treatment. He is reportedly suffering third-degree burns to his face, chest and hands.
Local emergency service told the news agency that the man is originally from the impoverished Intilakha district. He was reportedly a victim of deprived social circumstances and suffered psychological problems, and had tried to kill himself late last month by leaping from an electricity pylon.
The incident is reminiscent of the one in December of 2010, when a young Tunisian street vendor set himself on fire in a drastic act of protest against police harassment.
Mohamed Bouazizi's death in the town of Sidi Bouzid ignited a popular uprising that toppled former strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. That incident has been internationally recognized as what and touched off the so-called Arab Spring.
Nearly three years after the revolution, an estimated two million people out of Tunisia's population of 10 million suffer from extreme poverty, while 700,000 youths are out of work, according to figures cited by AFP.
Two years ago, Tunisians elected the moderate Islamist Ennahda party in the country's first free and competitive elections. It formed a government in alliance with two secular parties.
In recent months, however, tensions have flared up in Tunisia as jihadist violence has flared up and in the wake of thethe assassinations of two secular opposition leaders earlier this year, which have been blamed on Ennahda.
Ennahda has agreed in principle to relinquish power, in an effort to end Tunisia's political deadlock. Talks on the formation of a new government subsequently began, but they were quickly postponed indefinitely when no agreement could be reached on the make-up of the new government.