Renowned Moroccan playwright Ahmed Jawad dies after setting himself on fire in protest of 'meagre' pension
A prominent Moroccan playwright died Sunday, a week after he set himself on fire in protest outside the Ministry of Culture in Rabat.
"Ahmed Jawad died in a hospital in Rabat, where he was being treated after trying to end his life on Monday," local media reported.
On the International Day of Theater, Jawad set himself on fire in front of the headquarters of the Ministry of Culture, in an incident that shocked the quiet centre of the Moroccan capital.
After being rescued with a fire extinguisher, an ambulance transferred him to the public hospital of Ibn Sina Hospital to receive treatment.
The artist had not announced the reasons for his protest against the ministry, however, local media reported that his self-immolation was due to "receiving meagre compensation on the pension."
After the incident, the Ministry of Culture expressed its "deep regret for this tragic incident," stressing that Jawad is "a contract employee at the Mohammed V Theater in Rabat (...) who enjoys all his rights guaranteed to him by law."
The ministry also said that it had approved his request to "buy two theatrical performances in 2022" for a troupe he was running, in addition to a third show this year.
Converging reports said Jawad ] received a MAD 1,800 (US$177) salary during his retirement, making it difficult to afford life's necessities amid surging inflation in the country.
On several occasions, Jawad spoke of his financial struggles trying to get food and medication for his family.
In December 2021, he wrote a Facebook post titled, "Your Excellency, I am Begging', in which he described the worsening situation faced by Moroccan theatre artists amid the pandemic and urged immediate solutions.
The late playwright first launched his artistic career in the 1970s. Since then, he became a symbol of protests and hunger strikes against the injustices facing the Moroccan theatre and its artists.
His works include plays like "The Turtle," "Him" and "May God Have Mercy on Mi Tammou". In 2016, he presented "A Lesson in Love," a play over which he went on a hunger strike to get funding.
Jawad's death left the Moroccan artistic community in shock and grief, re-igniting the debate around the ongoing inflation crisis that has left many Moroccans unable to afford basic necessities, namely the retired working class.