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.


Iraq exhumes bodies thought to be Kurds killed by Saddam

Updated 2 min 38 sec ago
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Iraq exhumes bodies thought to be Kurds killed by Saddam

  • “More than 70 bodies including women and children, ranging from newborns to 10 years old” have so far been exhumed
  • “The evidence collected indicates they were summarily executed in 1988,” said the head of Baghdad’s Medico-Legal Directorate

BAGHDAD: Iraq on Tuesday began exhuming the remains of dozens of victims, including children, likely killed during ex-dictator Saddam Hussein’s campaign against the country’s Kurds, a forensics official told AFP.
The mass grave was uncovered in Tal Al-Sheikhiya, about 300 kilometers (200 miles) south of Baghdad, said Zaid Al-Youssef, the head of Baghdad’s Medico-Legal Directorate which is tasked with identifying the remains.
“More than 70 bodies including women and children, ranging from newborns to 10 years old” have so far been exhumed, Youssef said.
Those remains were recovered from the surface layer of the site, he said, but “there could be a second deeper layer” with additional bodies.
“The evidence collected indicates they were summarily executed in 1988,” said Youssef, which coincides with Saddam’s brutal “Anfal” campaign against Iraq’s Kurds.
The operation took place between 1987 and 1988 and saw nearly 180,000 Kurds killed and more than 3,000 villages destroyed.
“The female victims were blindfolded and killed by gunshots to the head, but also have traces on various parts of their bodies of bullets that were fired randomly,” Youssef said.
The grave lies in the southern province of Mutahanna, also home to the notorious Nigrat Salman prison camp.
Many Kurds and political opponents of the previous regime were held there, and survivors shared tales of humiliation, rape and detention of minors as part of Saddam’s 2006 trial.
Iraq has been hit by wave after wave of conflict in recent decades, culminating in the fight against the Daesh group which ended in late 2017.
Those years of conflict left grave sites all across the country where the remains of thousands of victims from Iraq’s diverse ethnic and religious communities have been uncovered.
IS alone left behind an estimated 200 mass graves that could hold up to 12,000 bodies, the United Nations has said.
Authorities are testing remains from the most recent conflict as well as wars dating back three decades in an effort to identify the fates of missing Iraqis.
According to Iraqi authorities, Saddam’s regime forcefully disappeared more than one million people in the 1980s and 1990s, and many of their families are still trying to find out what happened to them.