Egyptian doctors referred to criminal court over video demanding nurse kneel to a dog

Three men to face criminal charges for bullying and contempt of religion

The three men are accused of bullying a hospital nurse whom they had authority over, prosecutors said. AFP
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Three health workers at a Cairo hospital have been referred to a criminal court after a video clip showed them appearing to bully a nurse and demanding he kneel to a dog.

Egypt's Prosecutor General Hamada El Sawy ordered on Sunday the detention of a senior doctor, a second, lower-ranked doctor and another hospital employee on charges of bullying, abuse of power and contempt of religion. The men had been in police custody pending investigations since Sunday.

A prosecution statement on Tuesday announced that its investigation had found the men guilty of the aforementioned charges in addition to “attacking Egyptian family values” and violating the nurse's privacy when they posted the video of him online.

The prosecution's investigation was able to conclusively determine that it was the accused who leaked the video online through a fake account, intending to humiliate the nurse, the prosecution statement said.

The highly publicised case will now be handled by a Cairo criminal court.

“The three men are accused of bullying a hospital nurse whom they had authority over,” Mr El Sawy said. One of the doctors, he said, had tried to evade arrest before being detained on Sunday night.

“While abusing their power and exploiting his weakness, the men's intent was to ridicule and demean [the nurse]."

The Egyptian Health Ministry said the senior doctor implicated in the incident had been fired.

While abusing their power and exploiting his weakness, the men's intent was to ridicule and demean him
Egypt's chief prosecutor

The video, which appeared online at the weekend, appears to show medical staff reprimanding an older nurse, saying he had insulted the dog of one of the doctors. The video is believed to have been shot by one of the accused who does not appear in the frame.

The men tell the nurse he must follow their directions if he wishes to keep his job. He is made to jump over a skipping rope held at each end as they repeatedly insult and hit him with a stick as he protests his treatment. At one point, the nurse is threatened with electrocution.

They then appear to demand the nurse give a military salute to the dog and kneel before the animal. The nurse protests, saying that it would be a sin to do so, and the video ends.

The video caused a wave of indignation on social media, partly because of the high rank of one of the doctors implicated but also because the nurse appeared to have been told to kneel to the animal in prayer — an act that could contravene Egypt's strict laws against insulting religion.

The senior doctor, who is also the owner of the dog in question, made a televised statement on Sunday saying that the video was misconstrued and had been meant as a joke.

He told popular Egyptian talk show host Amr Adeeb that he had known the nurse for more than 20 years and had a close relationship with the man.

The nurse also phoned in to the show to explain that the incident happened more than six months ago and that it was after the accused's old dog had died, leaving him depressed.

He said that when the doctor came to work with a new dog he made light of the old animal's death, causing the man to become angry and demand that he make it up to the new dog.

The nurse said he did what was being asked of him because he knew it was a joke and said he had no idea the videos would be posted online. He also said he did not like the publicity surrounding the incident and that his family had seen the exchange.

Updated: September 14, 2021, 10:13 PM