Egypt gov’t MPs call for shooting protesters

Egypt gov’t MPs call for shooting protesters

Egyptian ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) members of Parliament lashed out during a verbal battle with Muslim Brotherhood MPs over protesters in the country on Sunday and said Egyptian pro-democracy demonstrators “should be shot” by police. The statements have been met with widespread anger from the activist community, who continue to force their voices to be heard in a climate of seemingly never-ending government crackdowns.

MP Hassan Nashat al-Kassas said, referring to the April 6 Youth Movement who recently held two protesters in Cairo where police violently beat them and arrested many, that “they are not youth activists, they are a bunch of idlers.”

Fellow MP Ahmed Abu Akrab chimed into the conversation and said that Egypt “enjoys a democratic climate these days.”

But, al-Kassas went a step further in his comments during the verbal battle in Parliament, saying that protesters should be punished for their actions. He said the government should “beat [them] strongly, shoot them not only by water hoses … they deserve fire,” a reference to using live ammunition against mainly peaceful demonstrators.

The Parliament conflict comes less than one week after a second April 6 Movement demonstration in downtown Cairo ended in violence and frustration. After a handful of protesters attempted to break through a police cordon, at least one demonstrator, Bahaa Sabry, was beaten ruthlessly by security forces. He passed out due to the violence and was taken to a local hospital before being detained.

In response, Assistant Secretary of the Interior Minister General Hamid Rashid denied any attack by the security forces on the protesters, saying that “the interior ministry did not violate the Constitution and the law and the security forces sought to protect citizens for the interests of the country above any individual interest.”

Rashid argued that the first demonstration on April 6 had been formally denied permission to take to the streets, “but the demonstration came anyway,” he said. He then added that protesters were arrested “because of their attacks against security forces with stones, insults and defamation and were referred to the prosecution they were released.”

Local and international rights groups have largely denied any overt violence from the protesters and have called on the Egyptian government to end its violent crackdown on protesters calling for democratic change.

London-based Amnesty International called on the Egyptian authorities to allow peaceful demonstrations and to protect the protesters and the participants, noting that the police violently suppressed a demonstration at the Supreme Court of an “anti-government strike last Tuesday, the second that the government violently repressed after a demonstration on April 6th.”

It said the police attacked the demonstrators and caused them injuries, and arrested others. A number of reports indicate that police used excessive force in putting down the protesters, causing at least one man to be knocked out by successive blows.

Hassiba Haj Sahrawi, the Director for the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty, said that “the continued harassment of peaceful protesters underlines that the authorities are determined to suppress the critical voices of its policies and calling for reform.

“Egyptian authorities should provide a peaceful climate for the protesters to demonstrate in a safe way, instead of launching an attack by security forces known for its brutal record.”

 Republished with permission from Bikya Masr