Dozens of protesters gathered at the Lebanese embassy in Zamalek on Tuesday to demand the release of Egyptian doctor Mohamed Al-Hamshari, who was arrested at the airport in Beirut on Saturday for possessing an illegal communications device. Protesters demanded that charges be dropped and that he be allowed to communicate with his family and legal support.
Those protesting at the embassy held up signs and pictures of Al-Hamshari and handed out flyers to passersby. “He’s very loved by his patients and collegues,” said Haitham Rizk, who helped in organising the protest. “We’ll come every day until he is released.”
Later in the afternoon, Al-Hamshari’s wife received a phone call from her husband, who told her that he was being interrogated, but did not know where he was. This was the first time in four days of detention that anyone, including Al-Hamshari’s parents, who live in Dubai, or his lawyer, had heard from him.
After being detained by police on Saturday morning, very little was confirmed concerning Al-Hamshari’s whereabouts. He was detained by the military at the Rafiq Hariri Airport and is reportedly under military investigation.
Unsubstantiated reports on Tuesday indicated that Al-Hamshari would be released. Rizk claimed that when he approached the Lebanese ambassador to Egypt Tuesday morning, the ambassador himself thought that the Egyptian psychiatrist had been freed. “We won’t believe anything of the reports or what either government says until we hear from him,” said Rizk.
“The Lebanese army has no right to detain or interrogate him,” said Rizk, “this was politically motivated.”
After treating people in the field in Tahrir Square last year, Al-Hamshari traveled to Benghazi to treat casualties during the uprising that overthrew Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Most recently, he worked with Syrian refugees in Jordan, using his expertise in psychiatrics.
According to protesters, they have reached out to the office of the presidency and the Foreign Ministry but have not been able to receive confirmation concerning Al-Hamshari’s location or status.
A number of Egyptian organizations, including Tahrir Doctors and the Arab Doctors Union, have spoken out against Al-Hamshari’s detention, demanding his immediate release. Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh has attempted to consult government authorities in both countries, but without conclusive result.