On 24 January a woman was killed as security forces dispersed a march by the Socialist Popular Alliance Party on Saturday in central Cairo. Shaimaa El-Sabag, one of dozens of marchers, was shot by pellets at close range, according to a statement issued by the party. El-Sabag was a member of the Arab Women Network Tha’era, which is a coalition of social democratic parties in Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, and an organization representing civil society.
The health ministry has confirmed her death. In a statement, the interior ministry denied that a policeman had gunned her down, saying marchers used fire crackers. "And later," the statement reads, "a woman was injured and hospitalised, but she died after succumbing to her injuries." The ministry went on to warn against such gatherings, warning that "terrorist groups" would infiltrate them with the intention of causing strife. Moataz El-Shenawy, Secretary General of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, deplored what he described as "excessive force" by the police to disperse the march. He said marchers wanted to place roses in Tahrir Square, to commemorate protesters who had been killed there during the 2011 uprising.
The Party of European Socialists (PES) released a statement concerning the death of Shaimaa El-Sabag. PES President Sergei Stanishev stated: “Today, after the brutal and senseless assassination of Shaimaa al-Sabbagh while she was placing a wreath of flowers at Talaat Harb in memory of the martyrs who shed their blood in the nearby Tahrir Square where everything started four years ago, we raise our voice to strongly condemn this criminal act and to express our deepest condolences to the family and to all those who are suffering from this loss”.
Mr. Stanishev also underlined that; “the killing of Shaimaa al-Sabbagh symbolises the failure of Egypt to understand how to deal with its recent history and casts a worrying shadow on its future days. As rightly stated by our friends at the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, peaceful demonstrations are not only to be allowed but to be defended”.
PES Women President Zita Gurmai added that; “women like Shaimaa have been the frontrunners of the revolution demanding justice, democracy, equality and freedom. It is very sad that these same women are today the victims of peaceful commemorations of such important historical events. I have and will continuing standing by all women in their fight to achieve and protect these liberties”.
The Tha’era network wrote an open letter to the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, asking for a transparent, public investigation of the case. A press release by the Egyptian Social Democratic Party condemned the killing, saying ‘She is yet another victim of hate speech and incitement broadcasted by the State and its media against the revolutionaries and the peaceful youth’. Read the full press release here .