Monday,19 November, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1386, (22 - 28 March 2018)
Monday,19 November, 2018
Issue 1386, (22 - 28 March 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Who failed the beautiful Egyptian girl?

Months before her death, Mariam Mustafa said she feared dying in the UK, Manal Lotfy reports from London

 

It is as heartbreaking as it can get. Mariam Mustafa, the ambitious, beautiful and talented young Egyptian girl, whose death led to widespread sadness and condemnation in Egypt, Italy and the UK, eerily knew she would die in Britain.

And she knew where she might die. On the street.

In a video which Mustafa made four months before her death, uncovered by the Sun newspaper, she was visibly upset, warning she could die because of the lack of medical care she desperately needed for a life-threatening heart condition.

In the five-minute YouTube clip, while struggling for breath, Mustafa, 18, said she was suffering from a rare heart condition. She expressed her concern that doctors in the UK had failed to help her get the right treatment for her condition.

“What are they waiting for?” Mustafa asked. “Are they waiting for me to die?”

“I felt poor recently and I have been in the hospital for one week here, in the Queens Medical Hospital. I stayed here, and they said that I had a chest infection. Right after I left the hospital, three or four days after, I ended up going to the emergency department. So, they still sent me home, even though I was not feeling good because the machine said I was fine.”

She added, “I had to go to Italy because here [the UK] they did not help me.  The hospital did not send me to a specialist. And what they said was ‘you are going to die because you had a blood clot and your blood was not reaching your brain.’

“I need your help. I am going to die here. I am not feeling safe. I am even scared to go to college. I do not go out anymore. I do not go to college. I cannot finish my education when I came all the way here only for that. I cannot do anything anymore. I am locked at home. If I have another relapse while I am out, there is nothing I can do. I could die.”

In the end, Mustafa’s premonition of her death came true but the way she died was not the way she imagined: beaten at the hands of a group of teenagers.

Mustafa was ambushed at a bus stop by a gang of teen girls who accused her of taunting them on social media. They kicked and punched her until she fled with severe injuries.

The police have said the attack was not hate-related. Supt Rob Griffin told a press conference: “All of the evidence indicates that the incident is not in any way hate-related.”

He added police have a “very clear picture” about the attack on 20 February and have identified six suspects.

However, this is the second attack that targeted Mustafa. Nottinghamshire Police said they do not know if the first attack on Mustafa in August was connected to the assault last month.

No one was arrested after the first attack as police did not know who the suspects were.

So, until the investigation is complete, and the responsible girls are brought to justice, it would be very difficult to rule out any motive behind the brutal attack. 

The needless, premature death of the young and vulnerable Mustafa, who was born in Italy, sums up all that is wrong in Britain today.

Youth violence and murder have soared in the UK in the last few years, partly because of cuts in the police budget and a reduction in the number of police officers.

The latest official crime statistics, published 25 January this year, reveal that between September 2016 and September 2017, recorded crime rose across England and Wales. Overall recorded crime increased by nearly 15 per cent across England and Wales, and by nearly five per cent in London.

Also, there is a rise in hate crime across the UK, with serious hate crimes based on race and religion, in particular, at record high.

The austerity measures did not only affect police funding but also and more importantly the funding of the National Health Service (NHS).

New figures from the NHS have revealed that up to 100,000 patients this winter have had to wait in the back of an ambulance for at least 30 minutes because of A&E overcrowding.

In all, 104,987 patients brought to hospitals in England have been stuck inside an ambulance, or in parts of hospitals including corridors, for upwards of half an hour.

The apparent medical negligence in Mustafa’s case is anything but rare. The NHS is struggling, especially during winter time, and people are paying the price. 

Mustafa’s death is beyond sad; it is tragic. And the outpouring of grief over her death is testimony to a precious life cut too early.

Nottingham College Vice Principal Yultan Mellor paid tribute to Mustafa, expressing to Al-Ahram Weekly her sense of shock, disbelief and sadness.

“Our thoughts and condolences are with her family at this difficult time. Mariam was a well-liked and able engineering student at our Highfields campus,” Mellor said.

During a vigil held for his daughter in Nottingham City Centre, Mohamed Mustafa expressed his gratitude for the support his family felt.

He told the crowd: “Thank you to everyone who has come for my daughter. I really appreciate it.

“Many friends from many countries have come here for her. We need justice and to make everyone safe.”

A friend of Mustafa, Jankeh John, told Notts TV: “I lost my best friend and a sister. When I first entered the UK, Mariam was the only person that approached me. That was almost four years ago. Her family accepted me like theirs. She doesn’t deserve it. She was a loving, cheerful, fashionable and intelligent girl. We were so close even though we had our differences. She was always caring and loving. I am very heartbroken now.”

The only thing Mustafa’s friends and family can hope for now is for lessons to be learned from this tragedy. As Mustafa’s father said, only justice will do.

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