Doctors in Egypt are threatening a national strike after two doctors in a Cairo hospital were beaten by police.
At a mass meeting last Friday doctors voted to call a strike from the end of February unless the police responsible are prosecuted and the health minister resigns.
They also voted to offer free services in public hospitals, chanted “strike” and raised banners that read “dignity for doctors”.
The meeting breached the strict anti-protest laws laid down by the regime of Egypt’s dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
On 28 January police arrived at Al-Matariyya Hospital in Cairo. They demanded that doctors write a false report about a police officer’s injuries, exaggerating their seriousness.
But after examining the cop, one of the doctors described the cut on the officer’s forehead as “simple” and said it didn’t require stitches.
The police officer then attacked the doctors, before a colleague joined him, pulled out a gun and began to threaten the hospital staff.
More police then arrived, seizing the two doctors.
Doctor’s union secretary-general Mona Mina said the two “were abducted from the hospital by policemen and dragged into a microbus, where they were handcuffed and transported to the police station”.
The police station in Al-Mattariyya, where the doctors were taken, has a particularly violent track record.
Three detainees died there from torture and neglect in a single week in February last year.
On the way to the vehicle, one policeman stamped on a doctor’s head with his boots.
Staff at Al-Matariyya Hospital immediately walked out on a week’s strike. Now their counterparts across the country are set to join them.
The Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists denounced “another crime added to the black record of this oppressive regime”.
Solidarity messages poured in from the Egyptian journalists’ union, engineers’ union, lawyers’ union and from media personalities such as the broadcaster Bassem Youssef.
The doctors’ union has also called for the release of Taher Mokhtar, a leading union activist, who was arrested in a dawn raid on his home on 14 January.