Father of five dies in Morocco after self-immolation
RABAT - A Moroccan father of five has died after setting himself on fire in protest at being refused an administrative document he needed to get treatment for his sick wife, a local NGO said on Tuesday.
The incident took place on Monday in Sebaa Ayoun, near the central city of Meknes, where Abdelkabir al-Atawi, 50, needed to renew his residency permit to avoid having to pay for his wife's hospital treatment, said Habid Benkarroun, the Meknes representative for the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH).
"The man went to apply for a residency permit but he was refused. So he covered himself with petrol and set himself on fire," outside the main administrative building in Sebaa Ayoun, and died shortly afterwards, Benkarroun said.
Moroccan Arabic news websites, which first reported the story, also said Atawi staged his dramatic protest out of frustration at the behaviour of the local authorities.
A Moroccan security source said Atawi had requested his original birth certificate, which he needed to get a new national identity card, but which the authorities were unable to give him because he was from a different region.
"Being from the Ouarzazate region, the municipality where he made the request was unfortunately not able to comply," the source said, citing the local authorities.
The AMDH representative said the man had been unable to pay the hospital fees for his wife's treatment because he had no job and no money.
Morocco has witnessed numerous self-immolations, especially by unemployed graduates, since the start of the Arab Spring uprisings, which began in Tunisia in December 2010 when a street vendor set himself on fire in an extreme act of protest against police harassment.
Political reforms introduced in 2011 followed by snap parliamentary elections largely succeeded in defusing mass protests that swept the kingdom.
But popular discontent remains amid extreme social inequality, corruption and a bloated civil service, with jobless youths frequently protesting in the capital.