Egyptian doctors revolt against escalating abuses

2016-02-13 14:28
An Egyptian doctor covers his mouth during a protest against rampant police abuses. (Amr Nabil, AP)

An Egyptian doctor covers his mouth during a protest against rampant police abuses. (Amr Nabil, AP)

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Cairo - When a doctor at a Cairo hospital told a police officer that his cut didn't require stitches, the response was startling and brutal. Police beat up the doctor and a colleague and dragged them off into custody.

The incident spiraled into protests by thousands of doctors in the Egyptian capital on Friday, a rare show of public outrage over police abuses that rights groups say have escalated in the country.

Such public demonstrations have become unusual in Egypt, where tens of thousands of political dissidents have been arrested and street protests without prior police permits have been banned since 2013.

While protesters gathered outside the building of the doctors' union, known as the Egyptian Medical Syndicate, inside members called for the resignation of the health minister - in part because of his lack of support - and threatened to go on partial strike.

The standoff between policemen and doctors suggested that Egypt's powerful security forces may have overstepped their limits by clashing with one of the country's most respected professions.

The Arabic hashtag "support the doctors' syndicate" was trending on Twitter in Egypt on Friday. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, a prominent local rights group, said the doctors' assault was "a reflection of the level of police abuse of authority these days."

The protests were sparked by an assault on January 28 in Cairo's Matariya hospital, one of the largest in the city, which serves around 2 000 patients a day drawn from one of Cairo's poorest neighbourhoods.

Read more on:    egypt  |  north africa

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