The majority of lawyers nationwide have responded to the call for a one-day strike to protest a recent incidence of police violence against a lawyer, Khaled Abo-Greisha, a member of the council at the Lawyers Syndicate, told Ahram Online.
"The aim of our one-day strike is to send a clear message to the interior ministry that we reject any form of assault. Now it is their turn to respond and pledge that such assaults will not be repeated," said Abo-Greisha
Last week, Emad Fahmy, a veteran atttorney with 25 years' experience, was assaulted by a senior officer while attending to a case at a police station in the city of Faraskour in Damietta. The officer used his shoe during the attack.
Fahmy was taken to hospital and received eight stitches.
"The majority of lawyers all over Egypt's governorates have responded to the syndicate's call for the strike. A very minor number worked regularly in the courts," explained Abo-Greisha.
Abo-Greisha highlighted that the syndicate's decision to strike excluded lawyers working on urgent cases.
Meanwhile, in Alexandria tens of lawyers staged a protest on the stairs of the court complex.
Participants in the protest held banners that read "Lawyers are the voice of the Law," "The dignity of lawyers comes from the dignity of the state."
Defending rights while under assault?
Abo-Greisha's assessment came in line with reports by Al-Ahram Arabic news website that lawyers in Egypt's Aswan, Alexandria and Menoufiya governorates responded to the one-day strike.
"We had to convey a clear stance towards the assault, because security cannot be established by violating laws," Abo-Greisha emphasised.
"How could we be assaulted while defending the rights of others? How would Egyptian citizens resort to us to get their rights while we are being assaulted ourselves?" Abo-Greisha asked.
The Lawyers Syndicate council member said they have been receiving reports of many violations against lawyers by police officers in the last year.
"The assaulting of citizens by security officials doesn’t differ from being assaulted by terrorists. We are against all sort of terrorism," Abo-Greisha stated.
Following the one-day strike the syndicate is expecting a response from the interior ministry.
"First of all, we are waiting for the result of the investigations that have been ongoing with the senior police officer detained [in the Fahmy case]," said Abo-Greisha.
He added the syndicate is expecting sanctions to be imposed on offenders, so that citizens feel such assaults will not be repeated.
"Sanctions should not only be on the judicial level for offenders, but also on the administrative level inside the interior ministry apparatus," said Abo-Greisha.
He further highlighted that if none of the above responses are forthcoming after the one-day strike, the syndicate will adopt escalating measures.
"We do not support, nor adopt, hostile relations with the interior ministry. But if no appropriate response is given to the syndicate we have escalating plans," said Abo-Greisha, highlighting that the syndicate will meet following the strike.
Abo-Greisha also said that the syndicate will attend the trial, set to begin Sunday, of the senior police officer who was detained for four days pending investigations into the Fahmy case.