President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi apologised to lawyers on Sunday for the “individual act” of a police officer assaulting a lawyer.
The president’s apology comes one day after the Lawyers’ Syndicate staged a strike protesting increased police brutality and assaults on lawyers.
Al-Sisi addressed lawyers while opening new developmental projects on Sunday, saying: “I say to all lawyers I owe you, and I apologise to you.”
He added: “I apologise to every citizen who has been subject to any offense, being directly responsible for anything that happens to Egyptian citizens.”
Lawyers launched a general strike on Saturday in all courts across Egypt. The strike was announced following the physical assault of a police officer on a lawyer inside a police station in Damietta last week. The syndicate’s primary demand is an official apology from the Ministry of Interior, the institution legally responsible for police officers.
Lawyers’ Syndicate Head Sameh Ashour told Daily News Egypt Saturday that all the syndicate’s branches undertook the one-day strike, except ‘some’ individual cases.
Ashour issued a statement following the president’s comments, thanking him for the apology.
“The apology of the president is a badge of honour for Egypt’s lawyers, that we all are proud of,” Ashour said in the statement.
He added that the syndicate values and appreciates the apology from the “wise leadership” of the president. He said that the syndicate will move past the dispute “in honour of the president’s initiative”.
Last Wednesday, the syndicate condemned the Ministry of Interior’s use of an aggressive tone in its statement: “The Ministry of Interior’s strategies in countering terrorism reflect prostration and hiding in the face of terrorists, therefore neglecting their duty to protect citizens and caring only about the Ministry of Interior’s own safety.”
“Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior insists on maintaining policies that constitute a setback to the 25 January Revolution, such as oppression, condescension, arrogance and bullying of peaceful citizens innocent policies,” the statement added.
Al-Sisi also addressed police officers, saying that they should be more careful when dealing with citizens.
“I say to our sons in the police [force] or any governmental department they should pay attention to [the fact] that they are dealing with humans and the job requires them to endure,” he said.
The police officer who assaulted the Damietta lawyer, Emad Fahmy, received a three-month prison sentence Sunday on charges of assaulting a lawyer, with a fine of EGP 3,000 to suspend the verdict. The Farscur Court in Damietta also sentenced the assaulted lawyer to one month in prison, and a fine of EGP 1,000 to suspend the verdict, on the charge of insulting a public officer on duty.