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Will Egyptian Doctors Vote in Favor of a Nationwide Strike Next Friday?

A cartoon that went viral featuring Medical syndicate chairman, Hussein khairy, beating a police officer.

A cartoon that went viral featuring Medical Syndicate Chairman Hussein Khairy stopping a policeman from beating him.

Egypt's top prosecutor has ordered the re-opening of Al-Matariya Teaching Hospital, in Cairo, following a week-long strike led by its doctors, after two of their own were reportedly attacked by a group of policemen. The doctors said they would continue their strike, backed by the Doctors Syndicate, until legal action is taken against the policemen involved in the incident.

Representatives from the Doctors Syndicate and the Ministry of Interior Affairs reached a deadlock after a parliamentary committee, which mediated a discussion over the dispute, failed to bring a compromising solution for both sides.

Incident brief

According to news reports, a group of low-ranking policemen assaulted two doctors at the Matariya Hospital for their refusal to issue a report including fake injuries in the case of an injured conscript. Egypt's Doctors Syndicate announced its official support for the strike launched by physicians, who demanded taking immediate legal action against those involved in the assault. Clashes also occurred between representatives of the Doctors Syndicate and representatives of the Ministry of Interior Affairs after the doctors refused to accept an official apology until all investigations are carried out. The situation exacerbated as Dr Hussein Khairy, Doctors Syndicate chairman, insisted that the hospital remains closed until the policemen involved in the assault on the doctors are held accountable.

Khairy and deputy head of the syndicate, Dr Mona Mina, were summoned by East Cairo prosecution over the accusation report they had filed to the general prosecutor. Meanwhile, the syndicate has scheduled an emergency meeting for all its members on February 12, to discuss the incident and move forward with their demands. Members will also be voting over launching a nationwide general strike, as reported in the Daily News Egypt.

The hospital's shutdown has enraged government officials, with the general prosecutor condemning the actions taken by the hospital doctors, saying the strike a “constitutional crime which obstructs a public institution from serving the citizens.” However, doctors are not budging and syndicate member, Hossam Kamal, told the Daily News Egypt:

Doctor’s strikes are a legitimate form of collective action all over the world according to international protocols.

Social media backs the doctors

Meanwhile, political activists, public figures, and movements showed their support to the doctors strike and expressed their solidarity through social media channels.

TV host and activist Dr Bassem Youssef, who is originally a physician, supported the medical syndicate strike through his Twitter account, which has 6.33 million followers:

ِAll my greetings to Dr Mona Mina and Dr Hussein Khairy, who was the best to teach me surgery courses at Al Kasr el Ainy Hospital. Support doctors strike against police brutality

He then tweeted:

Remind police officers who are bullying the doctors of the days of the revolution, when they stayed at home out of fear, while the doctors didn't leave the hospitals and the protesting squares

Bassem added this image that reads in Arabic #Support_Doctors_Syndicate against police brutality to express his solidarity:

It was not only Bassem Youssef who backed up the strike but also many activists, who encouraged the decision taken by Dr Khairy and Dr Mona, expressing their support under the hashtag #Support_Doctors_syndicate.

Political activist Khaled Teleima tweeted:

#Support_Doctors_Syndicate in the face of bullying

Shady el Ghazaly Harb, a founding member of the 25th of January Revolution Youth Coalition, who is also a doctor, supported ‘his’ syndicate:

“For the first time I'm proud of my syndicate, the doctors syndicate, in its defense of the physicians’ rights and its chairman who's unaffiliated to any party or organization #Support_Doctors_Syndicate #Support_Hussein_Khairy”

Human rights activist and lawyer, Mokhtar Mounir, showed his admiration to the Doctors Syndicate in this Facebook post in which he supported the strike:

الفرق أصبح في من يقود النقابة ومن يستطيع أن يثور من أجل كرامة مهنته ومن أجل كرامة المواطنين في مواجهة نظام غاشم

..the difference lies in those leading their syndicates, and in those who could revolt for the dignity of their profession and the dignity of citizens in the face of a brutal regime

TV presenter Ossama Gawish tweeted:

#Support_Doctors_Syndicate against the state bullying that does not respect the physician's dignity and is unable to protect him in his workplace

Video editor and human rights activist Mahmoud Salmani criticized the prosecutor's actions:

If you are to bring Dr Khairy and Dr Mona Mina to trial then first you must interrogate the Ministry of Interior Affairs. At least Mona and Khairy never kill

The April 6 Youth Movement also issued a declaration announcing its support to the strike and pinned its content in an Arabic post on their Facebook page:

يعلن شباب 6 إبريل كامل التضامن مع نقابة الأطباء في مواجهة الحملة الشرسة التي تشنها ضدهم الأذرع الأمنية والإعلامية للنظام الحاكم.
وأكدت الحركة إدانتها الكاملة لإنتهاكات الأمن المتصاعدة بلا محاسبة أو عقاب والتي طالت الجميع على إختلاف إنتمائاتهم من طلاب وصحفيين وباحثين وحقوقيين في ظل إرهاب السلطة لكل من يقف ضد مظاهر الفساد والكذب والتدليس التي أصبحت أسلوب إدارة هذه البلاد
لقد بات واضحاً أن جميع المصريين هم من يدفعون فاتورة ترضية وإستمالة السلطة الحاكمة للجهات الأمنية والقضائية الذين صاروا فوق القانون.
يؤكد شباب 6 إبريل دعمهم الكامل لمطالب الأطباء وتحركاتهم السلمية المشروعة ضد إهانة أعضائها والإعتداء عليهم أثناء تأدية وظيفتهم وتواطئ أجهزة التحقيق مع الداخلية ضد الضحايا ونؤكد أن أطباء 6 ابريل مشاركون بقوة في هذه التحركات وندعم دور نقابة الأطباء بكل الطرق.
يدعو شباب 6 إبريل كل النقابات المهنية الوقوف في وجه ممارسات أمن النظام الذي آمن العقاب فعاد لينتقم من الجميع ووصلت ممارسات القمع والتعذيب والتدليس والتزوير لمستويات غير مسبوقة في تاريخ البلاد.

The April 6 youth movement announces its full solidarity with the Doctors Syndicate strike against the vicious campaign launched by the media and the security arms of the government. The movement condemns the escalating security violations that are disregarded and receive no accountability or punishment. Violations reached all people regardless their affiliations or differences, including students, journalists, researchers, and rights activists under the umbrella of authority terrorism for anybody who stands up against corruption and fraud.
It has become clear that Egyptians are the ones paying for the attempts taken to appease security and judicial authorities; who are now above the law. Therefore, the April 6 movement affirms its full support to the doctors’ demands and their peaceful legitimate actions in the face of insulting and assaulting members of their syndicate while performing their jobs. It also supports the syndicate against the act of complicity between investigation sectors and the Ministry of Interior Affairs against the victims. In addition, the movement's doctors are strongly taking part in this strike and are fully supporting the role played by the syndicate in this manner.
Hence, April 6 movement calls upon all syndicates to stand in the face of the regime's security forces who are not subjected to legal punishments and their practices have reached unprecedented levels of torture, fraud, and forgery

On Twitter, the messages of support continues. El Fateh tweeted:

The only syndicate that didn't succumb to the regime and has preserved the physicians’ rights against the brutality of the police

Ahmed Ezzarab asked:

How can a doctor be responsible for the life of a patient when he is unable to protect himself and his dignity?

Mohamed Ali added:

The Doctors Syndicate took honorable steps against the savagery of the state. May God protect those behind these actions #Support_Dr_Hussein_Khairy”

And Khaled Diab concluded:

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