Two Egyptians hurt after `setting themselves ablaze`

Police said the men took the action in protest against their employer.

Cairo: Two Egyptians were injured after setting fire to themselves on Thursday, a police official said, taking to five the number of attempted self-immolations in the country this week.

Police said the men were workers at a textile factory in the Nile Delta province of Menufia, north of Cairo, and took the action in protest against their employer.

It was not immediately clear if they set themselves on fire at the factory.

Both men were hospitalised after the incident.

Earlier this week, three other Egyptians set themselves on fire in an apparent suicide bid matched by several other people across the Arab world to copy a Tunisian whose self-immolation sparked a revolution.

One of them, Ahmed Hashem al-Sayyed, a 25-year-old who turned himself into a human fireball on the roof of his house in the northern city of Alexandria on Tuesday, died in hospital later in the day.

Another man said to be a lawyer in his 40s set himself alight outside government headquarters in Cairo, an official reported. He was slightly injured and taken to hospital.

And on Monday, a man poured fuel on himself and set himself on fire on a busy street in front of the People`s Assembly.

He was hospitalised but expected to be released in a day or two.

Following Tuesday`s incidents, Egypt`s Al-Azhar, the most prestigious centre of religious learning in the Sunni Muslim world, said Islam bans suicide for any reason.

"Sharia law states that Islam categorically forbids suicide for any reason and does not accept the separation of souls from bodies as an expression of stress, anger or protest," spokesman Mohammed Rifa al-Tahtawi said.

The fiery protests began in Tunisia on December 17 when 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi set himself ablaze.

His death sparked an uprising -- since dubbed the Jasmine Revolution -- and led to Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fleeing the country after 23 years in power.

The Tunisian uprising, the first of its kind in the Arab world, has emboldened marginalised Arab dissidents and raised fears among the region`s governments that their rule could also be at risk.

The ouster of Ben Ali has left governments in the Middle East increasingly uneasy about the situation as opposition groups seek to take advantage of the upheaval in the north African country.

But Egypt`s Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit on Sunday downplayed fears that a Tunisian-style popular revolt could spread to other Arab countries, calling it "nonsense”.

Bureau Report