December 31, 2019
A leading Egyptian human rights lawyer has alleged he was assaulted and doused in paint in Cairo by a “gang” of armed men he suspects were police officers.
Gamal Eid said he was attacked by up to a dozen men as he attempted to flag down a taxi near his home in the capital’s Maadi district on Sunday.
He said the men had been waiting for him in three cars parked on the corner.
The men beat him, threatened him with pistols and threw paint on his face and clothes, Mr Eid added.
When neighbours tried to intervene, the men drew weapons and told them to leave, according to the lawyer.
Mr Eid, the executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANRHI), believes the men were policemen or acting under the direction of a security forces officer.
The BBC has asked Egypt’s ministry of interior for comment but is yet to receive a reply.
The state-owned news website Akhbar al-Youm quoted anonymous “informed sources” as saying the assault against Mr Eid was “planned by anti-Egypt evil forces”.
Those behind the attack were seeking to “defame Egypt’s image by spreading rumours”, the sources added.
Mr Eid, 55, said his attackers were trying to “punish” and “silence” him for his frequent criticism of “gruesome human rights violations” in Egypt.
It is the fourth attack on Mr Eid this year, the ANRHI said in a statement on its website.
In October, Mr Eid alleged that he was subjected to a robbery attempt and was assaulted followed by an encounter with individuals who claimed to be policemen.
Less than a month later, about seven men carrying guns smashed a car he had borrowed that was parked in front of his house, he said.
Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the latest attack “has the fingerprints of Egyptian security forces all over it”.
“Repeated attacks against one of Egypt’s leading rights activists raises grave concerns about the possible involvement of Egypt’s leadership,” she said.
Since the re-election of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi last year, security forces have “escalated a campaign of intimidation, violence, and arrests against political opponents, civil society activists, and many others who have simply voiced mild criticism of the government”, according to HRW.