Morocco self-immolation graduate dies

2012-01-24 21:57

Casablanca - One of two young Moroccans who self-immolated in Rabat last week during an ongoing protest by unemployed university graduates died of his wounds on Tuesday, a hospital source said.

The two men set themselves on fire near an education ministry building on January 18, the latest in a string of self-immolations across the region since the Arab Spring started more than a year ago.

"Abdelwahab Zeidoun died of his wounds at around 05:00," a doctor at Casablanca's Ibn Rochd hospital told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The 27-year-old was among a group of five who doused themselves with petrol and tried to set themselves alight.

The fire only caught on two of them, who were then transferred to Casablanca, 80km south of the capital along the coast.

The sequence was captured on video and has been posted on social networking websites. In it baton-wielding police can be seen trying to prevent food supplies being delivered to the sit-in protesters.

Thousands of Moroccans holding university degrees and seeking jobs in the civil service have been demonstrating almost daily to voice their frustration at the lack of employment prospects.

Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, whose Islamist party won November polls called early by the king to pre-empt swelling Arab Spring-inspired protests, has vowed his new government would address their grievances.

The Arab Spring started in December 2010 when Mohamed Bouazizi, a young fruit seller in the unemployment-stricken Tunisian town of Sizi Bouzid, self-immolated to protest against police harassment and the lack of opportunities.

His sacrifice triggered unprecedented protests that eventually toppled president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali a month later and spread to other countries, also felling long-standing despots in Egypt, Libya and Yemen.