A restaurant owner screaming anti-government slogans set himself on fire outside the Egyptian parliament in Cairo today, in the latest of several attempted self-immolations mimicking the one that set off Tunisia’s uprising last month. But security officials, with the help of passing motorists, doused the blaze with fire-extinguishers, thwarting the suicide attempt, the AP reports. Today also saw a man set himself on fire inside his car in Mauritania, and two light up in Algeria.
Algeria has now seen a total of seven men set themselves on fire. The protesters had various reasons for their actions—one terminally-ill Algerian was protesting medical costs, while the Cairo man’s grievance was apparently the price of bread—but all seem to be imitating Mohamed Bouazizi, the 26-year-old whose death set off massive protests that have captivated the Arab world. "Are we now seeing a trend?" asks Blake Hounshell of Foreign Policy. "It's a shocking, desperate tactic that instantly attracts attention, revulsion, but also sympathy."