Scholars: Islam forbids protest suicides

Jan. 19, 2011 at 11:48 AM

CAIRO, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Self-immolation for any reason is strictly forbidden under Islamic law, religious scholars at Egypt's al-Azhar University declared.

A 26-year-old man sparked a revolution in Tunisia when he set himself on fire in December to protest rising unemployment and soaring food prices.

Self-immolation has increased across Africa following that incident. A 25-year old Egyptian man died Tuesday after setting himself on fire on top of his house, one of at least three Egyptians to commit similar acts.

Al-Arabiya reports that at least 10 cases of self-immolation have occurred in the Arab region after the December episode in Tunisia.

Five similar incidents took place in Algeria where violent protests over rising unemployment and food prices have occurred, the network said. The latest incident was on the border with Tunisia where a 36-year-old unemployed man set himself on fire.

Egyptian newspaper al-Masry al-Youm reports that scholars at al-Azhar University, a leading learning center for the Sunni branch of Islam, said suicide as an expression of protest is forbidden under Islamic law.

University scholars said the Islamic violation suggests many of the people setting themselves on fire might be suffering from mental issues.

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