Young Egyptian kills self because of poverty

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Friday, January 21, 2011

ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT - Ahmed Hashim al-Sayyed, 25, set himself on fire because he couldn't afford bread, couldn't find work and had lost his sense of dignity.

But while one young man's self-immolation in Tunisia sparked a revolution, Sayyed was buried quietly here this week.

Sayyed and millions of other Egyptians suffer from the same grievances that led to mass protests in Tunisia and forced a president out: joblessness, hopelessness and opportunity only for the elite.

In Alexandria, where Sayyed lived with his family, his father stood on their garbage-strewn street just after burying his son. He was too ashamed to let a stranger inside the meager home.

"My son died because he lost hope of ever making enough money to survive, to put food on the table, to get a home of his own and to marry," said Hashem al-Sayyed, 67. "He hated to come to me for money."

Two other men in Egypt have set themselves on fire since the young man's self-immolation in Tunisia.

- Sherine Bayoumi


© 2011 The Washington Post Company

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