There was horror on the streets of Madrid as a visibly furious man set himself ablaze outside the Moroccan embassy, with the motive for such extreme protest still a mystery.

An eyewitness told Spain’s RTVE on Tuesday that he saw the man running and people trying to pull off his clothes, with someone trying to put out the flames with a fire extinguisher.

“From the way the flames were starting from his head, I think he had poured petrol over himself,” said the eyewitness, who only gave his name as Rasheed.

The man had reportedly left the consulate just moments earlier in an enraged state and produced a canister from his jacket and doused himself in a liquid. He then lit a lighter and set himself on fire.

The shocking incident took place in a northeastern district of the Spanish capital around midday.

The man, reported to be a 45-year-old Moroccan national, was taken to a hospital with serious burns and is in a life-threatening condition.

Police confirmed the incident and said the man had set himself on fire outside the consulate, but were unable to provide further details. 

A Moroccan diplomatic source also confirmed the details of the incident but said they had no idea why it happened. 

Self-immolation has been a form of the strongest protest over the past ten or fifteen years.

It has been favoured by Tibetan monks protesting Chinese suppression of their culture and nationality, with 160 instances since 2009 alone.

And the Arab Spring, which kicked off a long period of violence and civil unrest, began in Tunisia in 2010 when a street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in protest of the confiscation of his goods and harassment by the police. 


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