Drug-related crimes wreak havoc on Egyptian streets

A youth holds a narcotic cigarette in Cairo. (Reuters)
Updated 23 March 2019
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Drug-related crimes wreak havoc on Egyptian streets

  • Al-Saeed claimed that criminals addicted to drugs often “do not know what they are doing,” particularly if, at the time of the crime, their body “needs the drug”

CAIRO: Last week, a drug addict in northern Giza killed four people and injured others following a domestic dispute.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that the conductor who left his railcar without switching off its engine to fight with a colleague whose truck was blocking the way, ultimately causing the crash that left more than 25 dead at Cairo’s Ramses Station on Feb. 27, had previously been suspended for drug use.
These are just two examples of an increase in drug-related incidents in Egypt that has prompted President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to introduce a law requiring employers to fire drug users.
The most recent statistics from Egypt’s Fund for Drug Control and Treatment of Addiction revealed that 10 percent of Egypt’s over 100 million inhabitants use drugs — twice the global average. Those statistics also revealed that 24 percent of drug users are drivers and 20 percent are manual workers, and that drug use is most prevalent among those in their twenties.
Talking to Arab News, psychiatrist and doctor Salmi Al-Saeed said: “Most of the recent criminal incidents in Egypt, whose causes at first appear to be strange and unnatural, are found to be caused by drug addicts.”
Al-Saeed claimed that criminals addicted to drugs often “do not know what they are doing,” particularly if, at the time of the crime, their body “needs the drug.”
Rifaat Abdel Hamid, a security expert, said that drugs — whether synthetic or natural — can make a person “consider everything is permissible.”
Abdel Hamid said: “People who take drugs commit crimes, (regardless of) whether they are educated or illiterate, rich or poor.”
A spokesman for the Council of Ministers, Nader Saad, said in a press statement on Wednesday that the new law to combat drug use would treat people anonymously, and that they could avoid dismissal from their jobs by seeking help.
Psychiatrist Ahmed Wael said in a statement that treating addiction is “easy” and that it helps the person, and society, “avoid significant damage.”
He said the Egyptian government had taken a positive step, but that further efforts were required, particularly from the ministries of interior and social solidarity, to reduce both supply and demand.
“The Ministry of Social Solidarity needs to reduce demand for drugs by carrying out campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of addiction. There is a need for more rehabilitation centers to manage the crisis,” said Wael, adding that measures also needed to be taken to reduce the amount of drugs entering Egypt.
Sociologist Magda Mustafa said, “Addiction hits all economic classes, rich or poor. The heinous crimes that are caused by addiction are not linked to a specific social category, and this is confirmed by the news of daily crimes.”
Mustafa added that it was incorrect to claim that drug addiction is caused solely by economic and social problems, pointing out that negligence and lack of awareness campaigns from officials, as well as the Al-Azhar Foundation, should also be taken into consideration.


Army shelling kills seven in Syria’s Idlib, says monitor

Updated 42 min 17 sec ago
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Army shelling kills seven in Syria’s Idlib, says monitor

  • Two women and three children were among the seven civilians killed
  • Another 30 people were wounded

BEIRUT: Regime shelling killed seven civilians in Syria’s militant-controlled Idlib region on Thursday, in the latest violence to threaten a seven-month-old truce, a war monitor said.

Rocket fire targeted a village and an adjacent camp for the internally displaced in Idlib’s southeastern countryside, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Two women and three children were among the seven civilians killed, the monitor said.

Another 30 people were wounded, it said.

Regime ally Russia and rebel-backer Turkey in September inked a buffer zone deal to prevent a massive regime offensive on the Idlib region, near the Turkish border.

But the region of some 3 million people has come under increasing bombardment since former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham took full control of it in January.

The UN has expressed concern over escalating violence, warning that the flare-up is threatening aid deliveries to some 2.7 million people in need.

More than 86,500 people fled their homes in February and March as a result of the surge in violence, it said.

Iran, Russia and Turkey are set to discuss the Idlib deal during a fresh round of talks on April 25-26 in Kazakhstan.

Delegations from the Syrian regime and armed opposition groups are also expected to participate, according to the Kazakh Foreign Ministry.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif this week visited Damascus and met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.

The trio of foreign brokers have taken the diplomatic lead through the so-called “Astana process” that has largely sidelined UN diplomacy since its launch in January 2017.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since the conflict began with the repression of anti-government protests in 2011.