Social Action Now!

An objective view to worldwide social issues

Self immolation increases in Middle East

Middle East has been on the eye of the hurricane in recent years. The different problems related with this part of the world are one of the main phenomenoms that are worrying different countries. Mohammed Heriz, a twenty-five year old libyan, set himself afire throughout a protest in front of the Military court. This happened on October 16 of 2015. Mohhammed is not the only one who had tried to immolate himself, this paractice is also used by radicals belonging to extreme islamic groups.

Lebanon is one of the countries affected with this unstable situation, and one of the things that are concerning the country are the self-immolations. This way of protesting is spreading across Midle East an it is causing a lot of damage in the places where this action carry out. The unstability that Middle East is living nowadays affect completely to the inhabitants of those areas, who are looking for new places to live. This is the case of Syria, the conflict that the country is experiencing is causing fear in the citizens, so they are looking for a new place to restart their way of living.In the case of Lebanon, citizens have made a call to stop the crisis that is devastating them.  The garbage accumulated in the streets of Beirut is causing riots, which are not good at all for a suitable evolution.

The tension that includes the sectarian-oriental political parties and the members of the Lebanese parliament have avoided the election of a president for the country, for that reason Lebanon has been without a president for 17 years. Mohammed is a clear example of the desperation that people are experiencing in Middle East for a stable life.

When Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire just in front of the Tunisian government offices in 2010 a regional movement against the economic inequality started, but on the other hand, self-immolation is an approximately new practice in the country.  Self-immolation is, for the people that manage to do it,  a way of achieving some kind of mission, a mission that has a direct relation with the disagreement that they are feeling.Imad Salamey, a professor of political science at Lebanese American University says that there is a limit in peoples life, when they reach a situation of anguish, death is something a lot more illogical than life, because, at the end, if someone is living in awful conditions, that someone is going to find a way out from there, even if death is the only way. Here we found a contradiction, because not everyone who immolates himself has the idea of dying, they do it to raise awareness between people, to spread a message, the message of the change.

The US National Library of Medicine launched a study in 2014 in which it is said that the 25-40% of the total suicides in Iran are cases of self-immolation.  There are clear examples of this behavior in Iran, in March 2015 an Iranian fruit seller set himself ablaze after the government expropriates his fruit stand and in May of the same year a Syrian Kurd set himself on fire in Greece.

When the press asked Mohammed Heriz if it was worth to ablaze himself, because of the risk that it takes, he answered “I don’t know. Every day I am at war; there is no water or electricity. I want to have peace. I don’t have anything.”

Even though Mohhamed´s mental battle, an affiliate of the Lawyers Committee for the defense of the Protestors, told the press that Heriz´s actions were a “clear symbolic move … of someone who was willing to harm himself and destroy his life because of the situation.” This type of mentality is spreading across all the inhabitants of the Middle East as a way of protest because when you don´t have nothing in life, you don´t mind hurting yourself for achieving a change.


  1. Idioma, ingles. (24 Octubre 2015) Al-Monitor. Retrieved from

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