Thousands of doctors have taken to the streets in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, to demand protection for health staff against mistreatment by police and security forces.
Doctors gathered in front of their union, known as the Egyptian Medical Syndicate, on Friday to protest a recent police action against two doctors who were reportedly beaten up and insulted.
The protesters threatened they would go on a crippling strike if the authorities do not take police accountable for the mistreatment and cases of abuse. They raised banners that read, “Dignity for doctors,” while chanting “strike.”
Egyptian media estimated that about 4,000 doctors attended the protest, with the state-run al-Ahram newspaper saying on its website that minor skirmishes erupted due to huge and unexpected turnout.
The demonstrators were specifically calling for the police officers who reportedly assaulted two doctors in Cairo's Matariya Hospital last month to face justice. Reports said two policemen violently forced the doctors into a vehicle after another one pulled out his gun and threatened the health staff in Matariya, including the nurses. The hospital said eight nurses and a security guard were also attacked in the incident.
A video later emerged on the social media showing plainclothesmen grabbing a doctor while pushing and hitting the staff of the hospital. Police officers were also seen later in the footage doing the same with another doctor and employees.
During the Friday protest, the Egyptian Medical Syndicate also convened an emergency meeting to address the assault and issue an official note of protest.
The protest was a rare one given that the military-backed government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has managed to hush the public protests since it took office in June 2014. Thousands of people, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood, have been jailed on terrorism convictions under Sisi rule.