Doctors with numbers running into the thousands have gathered for a rather rare protest aimed at showing their outrage for police abuses after an accusation that two doctors were beaten up by policemen in a Cairo hospital.
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The reports claim that a doctor at the Cairo hospital in question had told a police officer that his cuts did not require any stitches, triggering an unusual response that saw the police man beating the doctor and another colleague. The incident took place on 28th January in Cairo’s Matariya hospital. According to online and televised testimonies of the doctors who came under attack, the police officer who’d been told that his cut was simple and did not require stitches had begun the attack on the doctors, before another officer joined him, pulled out a gun and began to threaten the hospital staff. After beating the doctors up, they then took them into custody.
Moamen Abdel-Azzem who is one of the doctors that was involved in the attack, said he had filed an official complaint at the police station but had to later withdraw it for fear of an arrest when the police officer filed their own counter-complaint accusing the medics of inflicting the beating on them. The general prosecutor ordered an investigation into the incident on Wednesday that saw nine policemen questioned, two detained and all released on Thursday pending further investigation.
The doctors had demonstrated on Friday chanting ‘strike’ and raising banners that demanded “dignity for doctors”. the doctor’s union has voted to offer free services in public hospitals and to call a partial strike in two weeks if the officers involved in the tussle are not held accountable. Thy also ask that measures be taken to protect medics from police intimidation and the health minister submits his resignation for what they deem his indifference to their issues.
Hussein Khairy, the chairman of the syndicate, addressing a cheering crowd of doctors, who filled all three floors and the roof of the union building said; “This is a turning point in our union’s history,” continuing, “We want the rule of law. Assaulters, whether they are a doctor or a police officer, must be punished.”
The beating of the doctors prompted anger among many Egyptians, and on Friday the Arabic hashtag “#supportthedoctorssyndicate” trended in Egypt. Pro-government media outlets have attempted to paint the protest as politically motivated. Private TV network Al-Assema, questioned whether Mona Mena, who is the deputy head of the syndicate and a Christian, is an Islamist. Mona Mena had strongly urged doctors during Friday’s gathering to refrain from chanting political slogans.