Egypt’s public prosecutor has ordered the detention of the main suspect in the killing of a female student in the northern city of Mansoura in a case that has sent shockwaves across the country and reignited a debate on gender violence.
Nayera Ashraf was brutally beaten and stabbed on Monday in front of the University of Al Mansura in broad daylight by a man witnesses said was a fellow student, according to local media reports. Ashraf was stabbed several times, including on her neck and chest, according to a preliminary analysis.
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Footage of the incident shows the assailant was restrained by bystanders and arrested by the police, local media reported.
The suspect, named as Mohamed Adel, will be detained for four days, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Tuesday, while an investigation is under way. The statement said that Adel, who is accused of premeditated murder, had confessed to the killing pointing to disputes between the two and her refusal of his marriage proposal.
After conducting interviews with about 20 people, including the victim’s family, Egyptian judicial authorities said that the suspect had repeatedly tried to approach the victim after she had rejected his offer of marriage. The family had also requested a restraining order against him more than two months ago, the prosecutor’s office said.
Security camera footage and the accounts of some 13 witnesses of the murder, which took place in broad daylight, were used to confirm the identity of the suspect. The prosecutor ordered an examination to be conducted to determine the exact cause of the death.
The incident triggered an uproar on social media in Egypt.
Nehad Abo el-Komsan, a lawyer and rights advocate, stressed the need to take gender violence more seriously.
“A long as we do not take the complaints of young women seriously, and as long as we say that those fighting for women’s rights are ‘emboldening girls and causing trouble’, this will be the result,” el-Komsan said on Instagram.
Youtuber Khalid Gas wrote on Twitter, “I cannot process what happened nor imagine the reasons or justifications because no reason whatsoever makes somebody commit such a crime except being ill, all that comes into my mind is her family and how they received the news and their reaction.”
The Observatory of Crimes of Violence against Women in Egypt recorded more than 800 cases against women last year, nearly double compared with the previous year. The actual number of incidents is likely to be much higher, the report said, as women tend to not report to the police.