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France: a Moroccan attempts self-immolation to renew residence permit

By Youssef Sourgo

Morocco World News

Casablanca, March 1, 2013

A Moroccan living in France attempted self-immolation because of his grave state of despair, apparently induced by his failure to obtain a residency permit

Aged 49 years old, a Moroccan attempted self-immolation on Wednesday before the prefecture of the Aples de Haute-Provence, in the town of Digne-les-Bains, according to the French daily Le Parisien.

The individual headed to the prefecture to renew his residency permit. To his acute disappointment, the service in charge rejected his request for renewal because his Moroccan passport had already expired since 2011.

Staggeringly enraged, the individual exited the prefecture. A few minutes later, he came back to the administrative building with a gasoline container in his hand, sprayed himself with the flammable liquid, and threatened to set himself ablaze holding a lighter in his hand. The police turned up in time to avert the tragedy.

“Self-immolation has become a fashioned recourse nowadays,” Mouhcine Benichou, a Moroccan psychiatrist based in Casablanca was quoted by the new site Yabiladi as saying. “The surge of such extreme recourse is traced to Tunisia, with Mohamed Bouazizi, the greengrocer who passed away after setting himself on fire,” added Mr. Benichou.

He went to say that “from that day on, resort to self-immolation propagated to reach Morocco, the Maghreb and Europe”. Since then, people deemed Bouaeiei’s tragedy as the key impetus that induced the uprising of the Tunisian peoples,” he added.

Awakening conscience and sparking change seem to be two central motives behind self-immolation. “Those who immolate themselves seek to attract attention to them, presuming that their act renders them heroes in their own tragedy,” explained Mr. Benichou.

“Those who resort to self-immolation yearn to become remembered by means of their act, thus both leaving engraved traces behind them and also conveying a message to humanity at large,” further added Mr. Benichou.

Another apparent explanation for the extreme recourse to self-immolation by Moroccans in particular, and by immigrants in general, is the unbearable mental states of depression and pain that immigrants undergo whilst residing abroad.

It is, thus, their acute disheartenment, after confronting a reality that proves to be incompatible with their prior expectations before living abroad, that rationalizes their resort to self-immolation as a way to voice out their pains and concerns.

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