A disturbing video of an Egyptian worker in Kuwait being beaten and tortured by his Kuwaiti supervisor has caused outrage in Egypt. This video, available on YouTube and shared widely on social networking sites, shows Kuwaiti mobile phone shop owner Ali Abdullah Al-Shammari insulting and brutally beating the Egyptian man, Ashraf Abu al-Yamin, who appeared stripped of all clothing in the video. The incident was filmed by a third man, Mohammed Eweiss Mabrook. He was an Egyptian business associate of Al-Shammari and was later involved in a dispute with him, making the video public as revenge.
There have been many previous cases of mistreatment of Egyptian and other expatriate workers in Gulf countries, but the publicity around this incident has led both the Egyptian and Kuwaiti governments to act. The Egyptian foreign ministry said that its embassies and consulates in the Gulf were working to obtain detailed information about the events surrounding the video and the Kuwaiti government announced the arrest of Al-Shammari and Mabrook. However, Egyptian Expatriate Affairs Minister Nabila Makram said that incidents like this “do happen and will happen again”.
On Twitter, a new hashtag called “#We_want_justice_for_the_Egyptian” was created to express support for Ashraf and it trended quickly on Sunday, being used roughly 16,000 times in 24 hours. However, rather than focusing on Ashraf’s case, most tweets using this hashtag voiced discontent with the Egyptian government and the situation of Egyptians generally, both at home and abroad. Twitter users pointed out that in Egypt human rights were not respected, that thousands of political prisoners remained behind bars and that the economic situation was poor, with many Egyptians unable to afford basic necessities.
A Twitter user calling herself Queen_ESO_Uwk (@Uwk_Eso) tweeted: “Only when a good Egyptian receive his rights from his fellow Egyptian, can we ask for rights for Egyptians outside Egypt”
لما الطيب ياخد حقه من المصري اللي زيه و في بلده مصر ، نبقي نطالب ب حق المصري برا مصر ✋
— ➰كـائـن الـآســيـل➰ (@QueenUwk) May 29, 2016
A Twitter user going by the name of “Hataklu Misr” (@MoCherouk) tweeted: “Do you seriously want a government which humiliates Egyptians to get justice for an Egyptian from a country it’s getting aid from? Do you think those who sold two islands for money will have any problem sacrificing a citizen?” The latter question referred to the Egyptian government’s recent transfer of sovereignty over the islands of Tiran and Sanafir in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates have provided significant amounts of financial aid to the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ever since his coup against democratically-elected President Mohammed Morsi.
يعني عاوزين الحكومة اللي بتهين المصري تطلب حق المصري من بلد بتديها إعانات?
اللي باع جزيرتين عشان الفلوس مش هيضحي بمواطن?
— ♣ بهيــــــــــــة ♣ (@Baheyyya) May 29, 2016
Zaki (@Zakki14) was even more direct: ”60,000 prisoners are being tortured in prison, and only one Egyptian in Kuwait sticks in your throat? What is this nonsense?” in a reference to the thousands of political prisoners held by Sisi’s government in Egypt.
ستين الف بيتسلخوا فى المعقتل
والمصرى فى الكويت اللى وقف فى زوركم !!!
ام البجاحه يا اخى
— زَكِــــــــــى (@zakkii14) May 29, 2016
A Twitter user calling herself “Lulus” (@LoO2lo2aa) used the hashtag to ask only for the most basic rights for Egyptians: “It’s enough only that they should buy food, educate themselves, wear something to keep them warm when it is cold, and live in the light #We_want_justice_for_the_Egyptian. Only a minimum of justice!”
كفايه حتي يكون
قادر يشتري اكل
قادر يلبس حاجه تدفيه ف عز البرد
قادر يعيش في نور
#عاوزين_حق_المصري ابسط حقوقه و الله و بس!
— لُولُوس (@LoO2lo2aa) May 29, 2016
More hashtags have been created over the past couple of days as a result of this incident, providing Egyptian Twitter users a platform to criticize Sisi’s government. Two of these are #A_word_to_the_Sisi_supporter and #Until_when_will_we_be_silent. They have been used over 7,000 and 1,000 times respectively over the past two days
Jasmeen Fawzy (@Jo_Jo_Fawzy) tweeted: “It’s only natural that those who have no dignity at home will not stand up for it abroad. Our lives are becoming cheaper every day #Until_when_will_we_be_silent.”
— Jasmeen Fawzy~چاسمين (@JoJo_Fawzy) May 30, 2016
Ameen Al-Sabbagh (@Armoush59) tweeted: “#A_word_to_the_Sisi_supporter, have you seen any of what Sisi promised you? Be honest with yourself so you can see clearly. You are too intelligent to believe the media of the coup”
— أمين الصباغ (@Armoush59) May 29, 2016
The video below is extremely graphic and not suitable for all