Protesters mourn Moataz Suliman, shot dead by policemen

Lina El-Wardani , Tuesday 1 Nov 2011

Suliman, 24, was killed by two police officers last week whilst driving with two friends

Moataz friends mourn in Sheikh Zayed (Photo: Lina Wardani)

Dozens of protesters gathered on Tuesday in Sheikh Zayed city on the outskirts of Cairo to mourn the brutal killing of Moataz Anwar Suliman, 24-years old, who was shot dead by police officers last week.

Protesters stood on both sides of the Mehwar highway that connects Cairo to the upscale suburb holding banners that read “Moataz's right will not be wasted”, “Why was Moataz killed?” “Police reform not random killing of our sons”, and “How can we celebrate Eid after your death, martyr?”

The protest was organised by friends and relatives of Suliman, but drew a large audience from the neighbourhood and elsewhere in Cairo, who were shocked by the sudden and erratic death of Suliman.

“I am here to protest Suliman’s death because if I don’t, they could kill me tomorrow. He died for no reason; he was just driving by. It could happen to anyone if we don’t stand against police who randomly shoot people,” said Abdel Rahman Ibrahim, 18-years old, who came all the way from Nasr City and had never met Suliman. Ibrahim had read about the incident online.

Ibrahim along with other protesters today blamed police for intentionally shooting to kill civilians for no reason, both before and after the revolution. “I wonder what will they say this time; he is a thug, or a drug addict, or what? This time it’s an upper middle class young man who was only driving his car, when the police harassed him and killed him,” added Ibrahim.

Suliman was in his car when two policemen shot him five times, killing him immediately.

“We were driving by near our home here in Sheikh Zayed in a narrow street that allows only one car, when suddenly a car kept flashing lights for us to let them go first. They didn’t wait for us to park or u-turn, they instead crashed into us. The car stopped, two policemen in plain clothes came out and opened fire on us,” said Khaled Tawfeek, who was with Suliman on that unforgettable Friday.

He goes on to say that when policemen opened fire on them, Moataz tried to drive away and save himself, but they shot him dead, with one bullet hitting him in the back and coming out of his chest, killing him immediately.

“I took the wheel and tried to stop the car, but they kept shooting at us, so we jumped out of the car. They came and hailed us, beating and name-calling, then they realised that Suliman was dead. They took him in their car and ran to the hospital without us. There they left his corpse to the doctor and asked him to give him a shot and fake a report, but the doctor refused and upon hearing the noise, families in the neighbourhood gathered. Then they ran away,” added Tawfeek, a friend of Suliman.

Tawfeek came to the protest today with little hope that justice will be served. “Not only have I lost my best friend, but I can’t be sure that justice will be served. Reports say one of the policemen is mentally unstable - then why is he in the police force and why does he have a gun? They always get away with killing innocent people. Remind me of one case in which policemen were killed or punished for killing civilians,” he said.

The father and mother of Suliman could not join the protest, but his brother and sister were there. His younger sister Basma, 19-years old, insisted that she will not be able to sleep, eat or study before justice is served to her brother. And justice to Basma is one thing. “Those who shot him should be dead, I don’t care if they are policemen, or mentally unstable, or anything. Justice is justice,” said Basma.

Despite the fact that the two policemen involved in the incident were arrested and the interior ministry apologised to the family, Basma still doesn’t see any hope.

“We heard the apology on air but no one apologised to us in person, and apology is not what we need, we need justice,” affirmed the younger sister.

A ministry of interior media spokesperson, Marawan Mustafa, apologised during a phone call to a 90-minute programme on El-Mehwar Channel, where Suliman’s mother, brother and friend who was with him during the shooting, were guests.

Mustafa said that the ministry is sorry for this “painful incident,” and that everyone in the ministry, including Minister Mansour El-Eissawy, offers their condolences to Suliman’s family.

Mustafa, however, refused to confirm circulating reports that one of the officers who shot Suliman is mentally unstable, reasoning that the case is now under investigation and he cannot publicly comment on it.

Mervat Ali, 57 years-old, is another protester who did not know Suliman but came to object to his shocking and brutal killing. “They shoot to kill. They could have shot at the wheels of the car, but police always shoot at people’s heads or chests. I am here to say that our blood is not cheap. Police should stop killing our sons. Everyone should be out in the street until this brutality stops. Suliman was not at a protest, yet he was killed brutally. No one is safe anywhere.” 

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