Ethar El-Katatney


Posted in Egypt Today by Ethar El-Katatney on February 13, 2008

Egypt Today
February 2008

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By: Ethar El-Katatney

In a near replay of the 2005 Airport Road debacle, Egyptian media played up the nationality of a foreign driver involved in a fatal accident.

The latest media frenzy came after 21-year-old Sarah Fahd El-Khatifi, a university student living in Cairo with her Egyptian mother and Saudi father, crashed into a taxi while driving in downtown late at night. The press labeled her as a Saudi princess, who was recklessly driving an expensive car with a 0.13 blood alcohol level. Her lawyer, Moustafa El-Ashqar, refuted all three so-called “facts,” saying she was not drunk and that the accident was a result of brake failure, not speeding.

El-Khatifi crashed her Jeep Cherokee into a taxi, killing 42-year-old driver Mohamed Hassan Sayyed and his passenger, 21-year-old Al-Azhar University student Farhad Hasanov, an Azerbaijani national. Two other Azerbaijani males were injured; one has been released from the hospital and one is still in critical condition, with El-Khatifi’s family covering all medical costs.

Hazim Makkawi, chief justice of the Chamber of Counseling at the South Cairo Court, initially rejected her lawyer’s request for bail after Fouad Khaled, the lawyer representing Sayyed’s family, objected to her release. Khaled cited the case of the Qatari national who fled the country after killing seven Egyptians on the Airport Road.

The Cairo Misdemeanor Court agreed to free El-Khatifi (on LE 10,000 bail) only after a LE 350,000 ‘blood money’ deal was set following two days of intense negotiations. The LE 350,000 was made payable to Sayyed’s three children: daughters Dina, seven, Ghada, two, and 14-year-old son Karim, who is disabled. The settlement means all charges against El-Khatifi will be dropped.

The Azerbaijani Consul agreed to drop the case after receiving payment for the deceased man and the cost of medical treatment of the injured.

The popular talk show 90 Minutes set aside two full episodes for discussion of the case with El-Sayyed’s family, in which anonymous callers donated money to the deceased’s family.

International media outlets criticized the Egyptian press for focusing on the “Saudi angle” of this case while dozens of people are killed each year in similar incidents


ARRESTED, 50 people before a Kifaya-organized protest against the abolition of ration cards in Downtown Cairo. Those arrested, mostly journalists and members of Kifaya, were held in state security trucks and had their mobile phones and other personal items confiscated. Their personal information was also documented. Seventy-year-old George Ishaak, former leader of Kifaya, was driven out to the desert and left to make his own way home. (EK)

DIED, four Egyptian women from bird flu, bringing the total number of dead to 19, and infections to 43. The deaths are the first flu-related fatalities recorded in Egypt in the last six months. Bird flu has claimed the lives of 210 people worldwide. (EK)

SENTENCED, two policemen and a police major to one and five years respectively for the torture of an Egyptian parking attendant. Yosri Ahmed Essa, the police major, forced the victim to wear female underwear and paraded him along a busy street in Alexandria in April 2007. His crime? Asking the police major to move his car in order to allow others to enter the parking lot. (EK)

FOUND, the remains of at least 10 Egyptians in a single grave in the Sinai Peninsula by a man digging the foundation for a new house in the town of Sheikh Zuwayyed, about 15 kilometers from Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip. Authorities believe they were soldiers killed in one of Egypt’s wars with Israel. (EK)

ATTACKED, the Abo Fana Monastery in Malawi City in Minya, destroying eight hermitages and injuring a monk. Allegedly attacked by 20 armed Muslims, the monks have not filed a complaint, claiming that they filed an earlier complaint against the leader of the attack to no avail. Former MP Gamil Sevene, head of the Association of Coptic Youth Cooperatives, was quoted in the local press as saying that this was not a sectarian incident but a land dispute. (EK).


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