London, March 23, 2015– Adding indignity to death, an Egyptian forensic office spokesman said that a woman democracy activist who was shot down by police last January 24 in Cairo died because she was too skinny.
This is the Egypt where police or soldiers are hardly ever held responsible for shooting down peaceful protestors, whether individually in this case, or in the hundreds under ex-President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 or current President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in 2014.
It was undoubtedly a good career move by the forensic doctor, Hisham Abdel-Hamid, to tell Egyptian TV that 33-year-old Shaimaa El-Shabagh had “no fats, so (birdshot) particles easily penetrated into her heart and lungs causing her death.” Doing what you think (or have been told) the authorities want is the default mechanism for survival and even advancement in the new Egypt.
“She was not supposed to die,” Abdel-Hamid went on. “This is an extremely rare case. It is impossible that small-particle birdshot from an eight-meter distance kills. But this is her fate.”
Oh well, Que Sera, Sera. Maalesh. Whatever will be will be.
A few hours later, Egyptian authorities said they would investigate the spokesman. One policeman, name undisclosed, has been arrested in Sabbagh’s death.
Here is Human Rights Watch‘s take on the shooting, including a video taken when it happened.