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Egyptian man who set fire to himself 'did not intend suicide', official says

A friend at the hospital says he had been "struggling" financially and was depressed

Monday 17 Jan 2011
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"He had opened a restaurant and was struggling financially," said Hamid Megahed, a friend of the 50-year-old Egyptian man who set himself on fire today.

Megahed, who was at the hospital, said that his friend, Abdo Abdel Moneim, was struggling with depression as a result of financial problems, which were affecting his family. He added that state security were standing by Abdel Moneim's hospital room and monitoring his statements.

Abdel Moneim attempted suicide outside parliament Monday morning by pouring gasoline over himself and lighting a match to his clothes. Pedestrians in the area tried to contain the flames, before a cab driver used his vehicle's fire extinguisher to successfully put the fire out.

An ambulance arrived on the scene, taking Abdel Moneim, to the nearby El- Mounira hospital. 

Egypt's Minister of Health Hatem El Gabaly issued a statement saying that Abdel Moneim has received treatment and is expected to be released from the hospital within 48 hours. At a press conference at the hospital, the minister's advisor later said that the man did not intend suicide. He added that the burns covered just five percent of Abdel Moneim's body, contradicting information released earlier citing 15 percent. 

Doctor Mohammed Abdel Hadi, the doctor who is following up on Abdel Moneim's case said his burnts are superficial, and  he can be out of the hospital Tomorrow but he doesn't think security would "allow him out soon." Abdel Hadi added that the patient said he set fire on himself because he "can't provide bread for his family." 

The case mimics the incident that sparked Tunisia's riots and subsequent revolution, where a 26-year-old unemployed street vendor set himself on fire when the government confiscated his goods. His act was in protest to rife unemployment and lack of economic opportunities.

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