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In Post-Revolution Egypt, Street Violence Spills Into Hospitals

After the regime fell, the security vacuum has posed a new set of problems in some hospitals, where doctors and medical workers describe chaotic encounters with enraged – and sometimes armed – patients.



CAIRO -- In post-revolutionary Egypt, an escalating state of lawlessness is complicating the lives of some doctors and hospital workers, who find themselves caught between their sworn duties as medical practitioners, and the dangers of dealing with a desperate — and at times delusional — ­population.

Several weeks ago, a man walked into a downtown Cairo's Ahmed Maher Teaching Hospital 1 asking to be admitted as a patient into the neurology department. The receptionist apologized and politely informed the man that the hospital in question has no neurology department. The man responded by pulling out a gun, aiming it at the receptionist, and repeating his request.

"He simply refused to believe that we did not have a neurology department — he kept screaming ‘what kind of hospital is this," calling us con artists, and making threats," recalls Dr. Mohamed Mostafa Abdel Ghaffar, the hospital's general manager. "What do you do in that kind of situation?"

Sadly, the incident is far from an isolated case. Al-Masry Al-Youm visited seven hospitals in the greater Cairo area. In all of them, staff offered similar complaints and shared numerous alarming anecdotes.

"People have come out of the revolution with the belief that there is no limit to the amount of rights that they can demand — any request, any desire or whim has now become a basic human right," says Ghaffar. "You add that to widespread anti-authority sentiments and a state of lawlessness, and it's not at all surprising that the result will be absolute chaos."

It's become routine, he explains, for hospital workers to brace themselves for a physical altercation of some kind upon hearing angered cries of "what do you mean there's no room in the hospital?" or "what do you mean you can't perform my surgery right now?"

Worse yet, Ghaffar points out, is the violence that comes spilling in from the streets. The Ahmed Maher Teaching Hospital suffers from its central downtown location, with one building separating it from the Cairo Security Directorate — which makes the hospital's lack of police protection surprising. "Sometimes it feels as if we're in a war zone," he says of both the influx of patients and the intensity of their wounds.

Doctors at the Coptic Hospital on Ramses Street have had to deal with similar situations, particularly following the violence that broke out between Coptic protesters and the armed forces outside the state television building, Maspero, on Oct. 9. "People were throwing burning tires and Molotov cocktails through our windows," explains Dr. Mohib Ibrahim Fanous, the hospital's general manager. "We couldn't rely on the police — they were more scared than the hospital staff. Most of them ran away."

Read the full original article by Ali Abdel Mohsen

Photo - FourthFloor

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

After Abbas: Here Are The Three Frontrunners To Be The Next Palestinian Leader

Israel and the West have often asked: Where is the Palestinian Mandela? The divided regimes between Gaza and the West Bank continues to make it difficult to imagine the future Palestinian leader. Still, these three names are worth considering.

Photo of Mahmoud Abbas speaking into microphone

Abbas is 88, and has been the leading Palestinian political figure since 2005

Thaer Ganaim/APA Images via ZUMA
Elias Kassem

Updated Dec. 5, 2023 at 12:05 a.m.

Israel has set two goals for its Gaza war: destroying Hamas and releasing hostages.

But it has no answer to, nor is even asking the question: What comes next?

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the return of the current Palestinian Authority to govern post-war Gaza. That stance seems opposed to the U.S. Administration’s call to revitalize the Palestinian Authority (PA) to assume power in the coastal enclave.

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But neither Israel nor the U.S. put a detailed plan for a governing body in post-war Gaza, let alone offering a vision for a bonafide Palestinian state that would also encompass the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority, which administers much of the occupied West Bank, was created in1994 as part of the Oslo Accords peace agreement. It’s now led by President Mahmoud Abbas, who succeeded Yasser Arafat in 2005. Over the past few years, the question of who would succeed Abbas, now 88 years old, has largely dominated internal Palestinian politics.

But that question has gained new urgency — and was fundamentally altered — with the war in Gaza.

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