NCHR Fact-Finding

Events of Abu Kabir

Established by:

National Council for Human Rights (NCHR)

Mandate

To investigate the killing of two men in June 2012 in Abu Kabir and the subsequent protests and reaction, as well as to determine what led to the violence.

Methodology

Conducting a site visit and interviewing the police and eyewitnesses in Abu Kabir on July 3–4, 2012.

Named Members

None.

Findings

The report centers on the conflict between a family of butchers and a Salafi group that resulted in the deaths of two men, Hassan Mustafa Salim and Othman Mustafa Salim, on June 26, 2012.

  • After their deaths, relatives and neighbors of the slain men shut down the city’s roads and railways until the two men were buried in the afternoon. A large group then burned down two houses belonging to members of the Salafi group and robbed one of its charitable organizations. Police stated that they were unable to reach the scene because all of the roads were cut off. According to the police, the matter began more than two months prior to the killings, when children from the butcher family and the Salafi group were playing in the street. A fight developed between the children that led to adult involvement. Both sides exchanged sharp words and a physical altercation ensued.
  • Afterward, the two sides met to resolve the dispute; while they agreed to drop the matter, a fresh exchange of insults erupted toward the end of the meeting, prompting members from the butcher family to start firing their guns. Mustafa Hogan, a railroad worker belonging to the Salafi group, was injured and died a week later in the hospital.
  • The entire family of butchers went into hiding for two months; however, when they returned, the Salafi group tracked them down and shot Hassan and Othman.
  • According to several witnesses (who declined to be named), the Salafis were followers of Mahmoud Abdel Mughuri, who escaped from prison during the January 25 Revolution, and were implementing a strict version of sharia. According to these witnesses, members of the group were constantly armed; one witness claimed that a member of the group shot him during a dispute over rent.

Recommendations

The report concludes with four recommendations, calling for:

  • the Interior Ministry to capture escaped prisoners, noting that they are a significant source of chaos and conflict;
  • the Interior Ministry to crack down on the profusion of firearms in the area;
  • increased police patrols and presence in the area, commenting on the noticeable absence of police officers in the town; and
  • al-Azhar and religious leaders to emphasize that religious law does not transcend civil law, especially in rural areas.

Analysis

Despite the report’s brevity as a three-page document, it manages to present a clear and detailed account of the events in Abu Kabir. The report identifies several of the larger underlying issues that played a role in the matter and provides recommendations aimed at a specific government authority: the Interior Ministry. However, the report, would have been strengthened by a wider breadth of eyewitness testimony representing different perspectives, particularly from other villagers not directly involved in the event. The report’s recommendations are commendable for recognizing the role that al-Azhar and other religious leaders could possibly play in stemming religious-based violence, though the recommendations leave out a significant player in the religious discourse debate by making no mention of the government’s role. There is scant media reporting on the Abu Kabir incident, though a newspaper article from al-Youm al-Sabaa outlines the narrative in much the same way that this fact-finding committee report does.

Report

The full text of the report is available in Arabic here.