Sunday,19 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1122, 15 - 21 November 2012
Sunday,19 August, 2018
Issue 1122, 15 - 21 November 2012

Ahram Weekly

Expatriate anger

The Foreign Ministry is in the firing line after being accused yet again of failing to protect Egyptian nationals abroad, reports Doaa El-Bey

Al-Ahram Weekly

The body of Egyptian doctor Karim Assaad, 31, was found last year in a locked bathroom at the Welsh hospital where he worked. Police said that there was no sign of a struggle, and the official coroner’s inquest reported that Assaad had died of natural causes.
His family, though, has refused to accept the findings of the British investigation. Assaad, they claim, was murdered, by parties intent on stealing what his family says was Karim’s groundbreaking research on the use of anaesthesia in surgery.
The young doctor, says his family, complained to them several times that he was mistreated by nurses and hospital officials because he was a Muslim. His sister says he told her that he was regarded by colleagues as being strange.
Mahmoud Ali, an Egyptian surgeon who has lived and worked in England for more than 10 years, says that whatever the cause of Assaad’s death turns out to be, the case should be used to throw a spotlight on the treatment Egyptian doctors receive in the UK.
According to Ali, Egyptian and Arab doctors working in the UK, while not subject to obvious maltreatment, often face subtle discrimination and are regularly passed over for promotion.  
“As a result,” he says, “many feel estranged, outsiders in British society. The fact that they are Muslims and not native speakers of English adds to this feeling.”
Living and working in the UK, says Essam Mohamed, a doctor who settled in Britain over a decade ago, is not easy. “You have to adapt to their system and their society. If you have problems adapting and feel you do not belong then you will find life difficult. That was probably Assaad’s problem.”
Assaad’s case hit the headlines last week when more than 15 political movements including the 6 April Youth Movement, the Egyptian Popular Current of Alexandria and the Mina Daniel Movement organised a march to the British embassy to press for his case to be reopened.
In anticipation of the march and possible follow-up protests, the Central Security Forces closed all streets leading to the British Embassy.
Chants and slogans raised during the demonstration made it clear that the main focus of protesters’ anger was the Foreign Ministry, which they accused of failing to secure the interests of Egyptian expatriates.
The Facebook group, “We Are All Assaad”, that organised the march, criticised the Foreign Ministry and the Egyptian ambassador to the UK of poor, even suspicious, management of the case.
The Foreign Ministry has yet to issue a statement on the matter.
Such protests, says a diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity, are only to be expected.
“The fact is that the Foreign Ministry has repeatedly failed to take any action to resolve the plight of Egyptians detained for years without charge in Saudi prisons. Such a negligent attitude to the rights of Egyptians abroad is bound to provoke public anger,” he said.

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