Egyptians outraged over the 'torture' death of an opposition activist

A large crowd gathered on Monday to pray at the Amr Makram Mosque in memory of Mohamed El-Gendi and Amr Saad. Photo posted on Facebook.
 
 
On Wednesday night, dozens of people gathered in front of the home of Mohamed el-Gendi, an opposition activist who died under murky circumstances on Monday. They came to pay their respects and denounce the alleged use of torture by the authorities. According to his relatives, the police tortured the young activist to death.
 
Wednesday's gathering was calm in contrast to the previous evening, when hundreds of angry protesters attacked a police station in the city of Tanta (the capital of the al-Gharbeya governorate, north of Cairo) and threw rocks at police during El-Gendi’s wake. The police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
 
El-Gendi, 28, was a member of opposition leader Hamdeen Sabahi’s Al-Karama party. He disappeared on the night of January 27 during a protest near Tahrir Square. The young activist was later found by a family member at Cairo’s Al-Hilal hospital. He was dying.
 
Undated photo of Mohamed el-Gendi taken during a protest in Cairo.
 
His relatives and attorney, Mohamed Abdel Aziz, claim he was tortured in a Cairo police camp before being taken to the hospital. They have filed a complaint against the interior minister and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. The doctor who carried out the preliminary autopsy revealed in a TV interview on Tuesday that the death was caused by a violent blow to the head from a metal object, and that the deceased had a broken arm and broken ribs. He specified that the exact cause of death would only be known in several weeks, following the findings of a final autopsy.
 
Footage of El-Gendi’s funeral.
 
During questioning by the solicitor general, emergency response workers who brought the young man to the hospital claimed he was injured in a car crash. Reuters, citing anonymous security personnel, reported that El-Gendi lost consciousness during an interrogation in the police camp where he was detained for three days.
 
El-Gendi’s death is part of a worrisome pattern of increased police violence. On Friday February 1, another activist was killed in Cairo during an anti-Morsi protest. The same day, a particularly shocking video of a protester being stripped, viciously beaten, and taken away by policemen caused outrage throughout the country.
 
A photo of El-Gendi in his hospital bed, with a beaten and swollen face, has outraged online viewers and is being shared widely on Egyptian social networks.
 
A Facebook page entitled “We are all Mohamed El-Gendi” has been created, reminiscent of the “We are all Khaled Saïd” movement, named for the young protester beaten to death by the police on June 6, 2010 in Alexandria. Saïd has since become one of the symbols of the revolution.
 
FRANCE 24 contacted Egyptian human rights activist Magda Boutros, who informed us that her nonprofit, the Egyptian Initiative for Human Rights, had counted 15 fatalities due to police brutality during the first four months of Morsi’s presidency. Twelve were killed by gun violence and three were tortured to death. She also indicated that of the 100 policemen accused of torture, only two had been sentenced.
 
A nocturnal clash between young men and law enforcement officers in Tanta, following El-Gendi’s funeral.
Contributors

“We searched for him for three days in police stations and hospitals, to no avail”

Mohamed Bkhet is an activist. He was a friend of Mohamed El-Gendi.
 
I spoke with Mohamed two hours before his disappearance, in the afternoon of January 27. He was participating in a march against President Morsi near Tahrir Square. We became worried very quickly because his phone was off and he wasn’t tweeting anymore, which was unlike him. We searched for him for three days in police stations and hospitals, to no avail.
 
In this video, Mohamed El-Gendi’s mother states that he was in a police camp in Cairo.
 
According to the eyewitness accounts we were able to gather, Mohamed was arrested in the night of January 27 following a verbal altercation with a police officer who beat him and threw him in the back of a police car.
 
On February 1, the chief of the police headquarters of Gharbia told us he was at the Al-Hilal Hospital in Cairo. The hospital’s register indicated that Mohamed arrived on the morning of January 28. Yet we had previously visited the hospital, and had been told he was not there.
 
We know that our friend was tortured to death because he dared insult a police officer. We will not be silent about what happened to him.
 
I am from the same city as Mohamed [Tanta]. I met him two years ago during the anti-Mubarak protests in Tahrir Square. Since then, he has been involved in almost all the protests, including those against the military council and the Muslim Brotherhood. He was a kind and friendly young man, and sincere in his beliefs.
 
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