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EGYPT: Unemployed man dies after setting himself on fire

January 18, 2011 | 12:17 pm

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A string of suicide attempts in North African nations continued Tuesday as an unemployed Egyptian laborer set himself on fire in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

Alexandria's public health office confirmed that Ahmed Hashem Al Sayed, 25, died in a hospital as a result of third-degree burns suffered after he set himself ablaze using fuel on the roof of his house. Officials said an investigation was underway.

Al Sayed's mother told Egyptian media that it was the second time her son tried to commit suicide after becoming distraught over a lack of job opportunities. "My son worked as a builder for 10 Egyptian pounds [less than $2] a day, but he wasn't able to find steady work. He got depressed after realizing that he is 25 and is yet to afford getting married," she told independent news website Al Youm Al Sabee.

"He tried looking for a better job, but no one would hire him because he didn't continue education beyond preschool, which led to his first suicide attempt when he cut his wrist veins with a razor," she said.

On Monday, a 50-year-old man set himself on fire outside the Egyptian parliament's headquarters in Cairo, reportedly after growing frustrated with tough living conditions.

Abdou Abdul Monem was said to have tried to kill himself following a dispute with authorities in the city of Ismailia concerning his monthly coupons for subsidized bread. He remains in a hospital as he is treated for first-degree burns.

Both incidents coincide with recent suicide attempts in Algeria and Mauritania.

Self-immolation attempts have spread across North African countries after the suicide attempt of an unemployed man in Tunisia led to angry demonstrations against unemployment and poverty and ended with the ousting of Tunisian President Zine el Abidine ben Ali.

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Abdou Abdul Monem, who tried to commit suicide outside Egypt's parliament on Monday. Credit: Agence France-Presse

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