Egyptian woman protesting neighbour's building violations dies after hunger strike

Hadeer El-Mahdawy , Sunday 12 Mar 2017

The death of a woman on hunger strike as a result of a conflict with a neighbour sparked stir in Menoufiya on Sunday around the hospital where she passed away, Al-Ahram Arabic reported.

The woman, 55-year-old Safaa El-Koumy, had been holding a sit-in and hunger strike at the hospital for the last two weeks in protest at the local government's apparent failure to remove building infringements on a main road in her village of Tabluha.

According to the family lawyer, the issue started in 2014, when residents of the village complied with a law ordering main streets be broadened, demolishing and rebuilding their houses.

"However, due to corruption in a local administrative unit, one family was allowed to violate the law, seizing almost 35 metres of the road. Despite removal orders being issued, the violations continued, narrowing the road, and blocking sunlight from neighbours' buildings," lawyer Ragab El-Gohary told Ahram Online.

A security source in Menoufiya told Al-Ahram Arabic that the previous removal decrees were appealed and the decree cancelled by administrative court. A new decree was issued this month, but the procedures for its enactment have not yet been finished.

On 28 February, following attack on her family in the village, El-Koumy along with her four sons and daughters went to hospital to report the violator, who has been in conflict with the family and other neighbours for years.

"When they reached the hospital they found out that the attacker filed a police complaint claiming he was attacked by El-Koumy and his sister was harassed. They decided to go on strike, and started a sit-in and hunger strike at the hospital," El-Gohary said.

Dozens gathered on Sunday morning at the Central Hospital of Tala, blocking a nearby road until around noon, when the crowd dispersed to attend the woman's funeral, scheduled for later that day.

Most of the angry crowd came from El-Koumy's village, and suffered from violations and corruption amid legal disputes against the same person, according to El-Gohary.

Despite their mother's death, El-Koumy's sons and daughters will continue the hunger strike at the hospital until the constructions that are in violation of the law are removed, said El-Gohary.

Short link: