Egypt's disabled accuse Morsi's guards of assault

Ahram Online, Monday 15 Oct 2012

Protesters with special needs who are demonstrating at the presidential palace file reports against presidential guards accusing them of assault

Egyptian disabled played a key role in the January 25 uprising, near Tahrir (Photo: Randa Ali)

On Sunday evening, Egypt's presidential guards reportedly attacked a sit-in by citizens with special needs, who are demanding to present their grievances to President Mohamed Morsi.

"Guards attacked us, broke a number of chairs and filed reports against us at Heliopolis police station," claimed Ashour Hamouda, one of 30 protesters who have been demonstrating at the presidential palace in Cairo since Wednesday.

Protesters are demanding that Morsi implement a clause in the 1971 constitution which reserves 5 per cent of all vacant government jobs for the disabled; in addition, they are asking for implementation of housing rights, provision of a LE1,500 pension and to be exempted from customs duties on their cars.

The attack came as protesters took off for a march from Gate 4 to Gate 5 of the palace to raise their demands; they were later accused of blocking the road.

Hamouda added that protesters have filed a number of reports against the presidential guards at Gate 4, accusing them of beating and injuring some of them.

This is the second such attack on special needs protesters reported in five days, as guards reportedly beat up members of the crowd last Thursday.

In response to the attack, the Egyptian Communist Party, which supports the sit-in, issued a statement on Monday to condemn the reported assault, calling on Egyptian officials to acknowledge the role that handicapped played during the January 25 uprising.

According to the statement, two of the protesters were arrested and sent to Heliopolis police station before they were released hours later.

Last Thursday presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali said that the presidency is committed to increasing the budget for the National Council for Disabilities (NCD).

Furthermore, President Mohamed Morsi on Monday met with head of the NCD to discuss the demands of Egypt's disabled, reported privately-owned Al-Shorouk newspaper.

People with special needs make up around 12 million of Egypt's population, according to rights organisations.

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