CAIRO — Protesters set themselves on fire in Egypt, Algeria and Mauritania on Monday in apparent copycat self-immolation attempts inspired by the act that helped trigger a popular uprising in Tunisia.
The desperate acts raised concerns that the practice could become a trend among activists seeking to force change in a region that has little or no tolerance for dissent.
The Egyptian man was engulfed by flames after he ignited himself outside the parliament building in central Cairo. Policemen guarding the building and motorists driving by at the time used fire extinguishers to quickly put out the blaze, according to security officials.
Health Ministry spokesman Abdel-Rahman Shahine said the man was taken to the hospital with light burns, mostly to his face, neck and legs. Officials identified him as Abdu Abdel-Moneim Hamadah, a 48-year-old owner of a small restaurant from Qantara, an area close to the Suez Canal city of Ismailia east of Cairo.
A Mauritanian man reportedly unhappy with the government also was hospitalized after setting himself on fire Monday.
Witnesses say 43-year-old Yacoub Ould Dahoud drove to a government building in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, and torched himself in his car. Foreign ministry official Abdou Ould Sidi says police rushed him to the hospital.