A businessman in his forties from a wealthy family; happily married husband and father; practising Muslim and patriot of his beloved Mauritania.
On 17 January, 2011, Yacoub parked his car outside the Presidential Palace in Nouakchott, locked the doors, doused himself in petrol, and set fire to himself. Police and passers-by rushed to his aid, smashing the car windows to get him out. He was taken to hospital, where he eventually died from from the severity of his burns.
This was no impoverished youth. This was a man with much to live for, yet he was deeply disturbed by what he saw happening around him, and found the frustration of the cries for help, for justice, for an end to the many corrupt and unfair practices inflicted upon the majority of Mauritania’s population overwhelming. So he decided that he would voice these grievances in flame, knowing full well the stigma attached to such an act.
Yacoub left a note behind (PDF, Arabic: http://snup.us/odA ) explaining his decision and calling for an end to decades of injustice in Mauritania.
The photos and video here show people who answered the call to gather in Nouakchott, on January 17, 2012, to commemorate the sacrifice Yacoub made, and to honour the family and the beloved country he left behind.