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Tunisian Upheaval Echoes in Region


Restaurant owner Abdouh Abdel Moneim, 49, lies in a hospital bed after he had set himself on fire near the parliament in Cairo, 17 Jan 2011

Restaurant owner Abdouh Abdel Moneim, 49, lies in a hospital bed after he had set himself on fire near the parliament in Cairo, 17 Jan 2011

Protesters have set themselves on fire in Egypt, Mauritania and Algeria in apparent imitation of the act that helped trigger Tunisia's political upheaval.

Egyptian officials say a 48-year-old restaurateur was hospitalized Monday after dousing himself with gasoline and igniting it outside the parliament in Cairo.

In Mauritania Monday, a businessman set fire to himself while in a car parked in front of the presidential palace. He was also taken to a hospital.

Both men were said to be unhappy with their governments. In Algeria, four men have set themselves on fire in the last week.

The protesters appear to be copying the fatal self-immolation last month of a 26-year-old unemployed Tunisian university graduate, who was angry that officials had seized merchandise he was selling on the street.

The event triggered protests that led to the ouster of Tunisia's authoritarian president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit ruled out the possibility that Tunisia's political uprising will spread to other Arab countries, including Egypt.

But even in Oman, where social unrest is almost unheard of, hundreds of people demonstrated Monday against high prices and corruption.

Last week, thousands of Jordanian protesters called for an end to authoritarian rule in their country and demanded the government back down on tough austerity measures, including higher taxes. Demonstrators also rallied against soaring prices and unemployment.

And the Libyan newspaper Oea reported that protesters last week occupied hundreds of apartments still under construction and ransacked the offices of foreign contractors that are building them. Demonstrators reportedly were angered by a delay in the government's delivery of subsidized housing units.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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