Cairo Fears Looming Unrest in Wake of Protest Self-Immolation

ilitary and members of the Egyptian police force stand guard outside the El-Mosheer Tantawy Mosque ahead of the memorial ceremony held by EgyptAir for realtives and family members of EgyptAir staff on flight MS804 on May 23, 2016 in Cairo, Egypt.
Chris McGrath/Getty

Egyptian President Abdul Fatah Sisi’s regime has been bracing for unrest following the self-immolation of a taxi driver on Saturday in protest of the soaring cost of living.

Witnesses said that Ashraf Mohammed Shaheen, 30, set himself on fire in front of an army center in Sidi Gaber, east Alexandria, after criticizing the government and the country’s high prices.

One eyewitness told the New Arab 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 per cent of his body.

“Another man named Abdul Alim Muhammad Abdul Alim, 32, was injured while trying to save him.

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 that.”

“A large proportion of burnt tissue has been destroyed , and this requires long-term treatment.”

The incident came in the wake of an online campaign calling on Egyptians to take to the streets on November 11 under the slogan “the revolution of the poor.”

The pro-government has maintained that the organizers, rather than ordinary protesters, are Sisi’s political rivals who seek to undermine his government under a cloak of popular protests.

Top broadcaster Azmi Mujahed warned that “whoever calls on people to take part in the demonstration is a traitor. The people will devour the participants.”

Meanwhile, Shaheen’s suicide sparked a heated debate on social media.

Omar Khatab tweeted that “He will die as an infidel” because suicide is prohibited by Islam.

Another user wrote: “Dear Allah, where is Sisi taking Egypt?”

“By rushing to hell, he lost his life and his afterlife,” another tweeted.

“May Allah avenge Sisi,” Mustafa wrote. “They want to lead the people to humiliation. Allah, treat these evil and corrupt leaders, but Islam shall prevail.”

“Tomorrow the revolution will burn you,” Rebel tweeted.

Referring to the location Shaheen chose to perform his act, Abdullah noted sarcastically: “He set himself on fire near the embassy of the Army State.”


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