The self-immolation of a young Moroccan has highlighted growing popular frustration with nation's lack of reform, according to an article on the United States Africa Command's news site. Suicide by fire helped trigger revolution in several other Arab countries, and has been a popular form of revolt against oppression and lack of opportunity.
Hamid Kanouni, 27, burned himself alive August 7 outside of a police station in a city in northeastern Morocco, sparking debate in Moroccan society over the act and reform in the society. Onlookers said the act was provoked when the police beat and humiliated the man, seizing his bread cart over accusations from another vendor. Police claimed the man's cart was destroyed by an unknown assailant and that he killed himself in grief.
Various elements of society saw the act differently, even if they agreed that it highlighted popular frustration. "Hamid wouldn't have set fire to himself if he didn't have good reasons for doing such a thing. It's a real sign that the supposed change hasn't happened," said a member of the February 20th Movement, a pro-reform, pro-monarch alternative to leftist and Islamist factions. Islamist groups rejected the suicide as against Islam, while some leftist rejected its extremeness, but representatives of both group's expressed frustration with the pace of reform.
Self-immolation sparked the revolution in Tunisia, where Mohamed Bouazizi's suicide by fire brought the people to the streets. Copycat acts soon sparked all over the Arab world, with the self-immolation being seen as the embodiment of frustration with corrupt and brutal regimes.