Egypt blocks Muslim Brotherhood hospital for poors

Egypt blocks Muslim Brotherhood hospital for poors
Egypt is knocking down a new hospital built by the Muslim Brotherhood to serve poor residents of Cairo because officials claim it "violates building regulations".

Government opponents say the decision to tear down the hospital, which the Brotherhood says has cost about 40 million Egyptian pounds ($7.30 million) so far, is politically motivated.

The Brotherhood is Egypt’s biggest opposition group and holds a fifth of the seats in parliament, won in the 2005 vote. But it is officially banned so its candidates must run as independents and Brotherhood members are regularly arrested.

Construction workers have been hacking away since Monday with heavy duty compressors at the walls of the Islamic Medical Association’s Central Charity Hospital, witnesses said. It was due to open before a parliamentary election later next year.

Cairo governorate spokesman Khalid Mustafa told Reuters said the hospital had been built on more land than a permit allowed.

The Brotherhood says the seven-storey, 250-bed hospital is part of a network of social projects analysts say have bolstered the Brotherhood’s support in Egypt where a fifth of people live in extreme poverty.

"(The demolitions) are politically motivated. (Other) people build on government-owned land and no one evacuates them," Brotherhood leader Mohamed Mahdi Akef told Reuters.

"There is oppression of everything that is Brotherhood-related."

Permit row

The Islamic Medical Association, a Brotherhood affiliate behind the project, and Cairo’s Nasr City district, where the building is located, have been locked in a row over permits.

The association says it began building in 2001 after a court ordered the district to grant a revised permit, offering more space and allowing it to go up higher. The association says the district failed to heed the court order.

"We put forward many requests to the district to carry out the court order and grant us a new permit but to no avail," Abbas Saad Al Anwar, one of the hospital’s board members, said.

A court on Thursday postponed for another week a case aimed at putting a stop to the demolition without ordering any halt to the wrecking work now in progress, said Medhat Omar, a lawyer for the association.

Omar Fathy El Ayaat, the hospital deputy director, said the government was lax when it came to other building violations and the demolition was being done for other reasons.

"Why the hurry to bring down a hospital meant to service millions of poor Egyptians?…The destruction is accelerating and in no time there will be no hospital," he said