Parent Dies after Setting Himself Ablaze at School


A man died from severe burns Friday after setting himself on fire at his daughter's school over a fee dispute with the management, state-run National News Agency said.

George Zreik doused himself with petrol and set it ablaze Thursday at Our Lady of Kaftoun secondary school in the Koura district of north Lebanon, the doctor who treated him told the AFP news agency.

Gabriel al-Sabaa, head of the surgery department at the al-Salam hospital in Tripoli, said that "burns covered 90 percent of his body."

Zreik reportedly took the desperate step after the school refused to give him a certificate attesting that his daughter was a student, the National News Agency said. 

He needed the certificate to transfer her to another institution. 

The school withheld the document because Zreik had failed to pay fees he owed the management, the report said. 

The school said in a statement that it had granted Zreik's two children free tuition since they enrolled in 2014. 

But the father still had to pay for the bus service, stationery and extracurricular activities, it said. 

The school said it had sent four written notices since the start of the school year asking him to settle outstanding payments.

Lebanon's newly-appointed Education Minister Akram Shehayyeb opened an investigation into the incident and pledged to cover the cost of educating Zreik's two children, a statement said.

The minister "hopes this painful incident will give the government an incentive to address difficult economic and living conditions," it said. 

The incident unleashed a wave of anger on social media over the sluggish economy a week after Lebanon finally formed a new government following eight months of political squabbles.

"We need to take to the streets and torch the country the way George Zreik torched himself," activist Farouq Yacoub wrote in an online post. 

Comments 1
Thumb justice 08 February 2019, 14:51

Nothing short of a violent revolution is needed to achieve social justice for all.