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Family of Egyptian student beaten to death accuse UK authorities of negligence

Egyptian Foreign Ministry accuses British hospital of 'negligence' after 18-year old Mariam Moustafa Abdel Salam dies
Mariam Moustafa Abdel Salam was attacked at a bus stop on 20 February and later fell into a coma before her death on Wednesday (social media)

The family of an Egyptian student who was attacked in the UK city of Nottingham and died from her wounds in hospital on Wednesday has accused the British authorities of complacency and negligence.

Mariam Moustafa Abdel Salam, a student of engineering living in the town of Beeston, was reportedly beaten in the street by a group of women on 20 February in what her mother claimed was a racially motivated attack. She died after being treated for serious head injuries.

“We have had no support from the British authorities or police,” Mariam’s father, Hatim Abdel Salam, told Middle East Eye.

“They [British authorities] have been complacent and negligent. After Mariam was beaten up and taken to hospital, she was quickly sent home after five hours, despite insisting that she was not well,” said Mariam’s uncle Amr Hariry in a video posted on Facebook on Wednesday night.

Her name is Mariam Mostafa, and not Cathy Johnson. If my daughter was English, they [the British authorities] would not have dealt with her in this way

- Hatim Abdel Salam, father

Following the attack, she was taken to the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham, where she was joined by her mother and sister who she had planned to meet earlier that evening.

She was then released, but later suffered a brain haemorrhage, and was then placed in a medically induced coma.

The Nottingham Universities Hospitals NHS Trust has been contacted for comment. 

According to Mariam’s cousin, Saphia Abdel, Mariam complained of severe pain when she got home and was taken back to the hospital where she “suffered a stroke, bleeding and blood clots in her brain, bleeding in her lungs, was in a coma, and underwent nine surgeries," she told MEE.

“It’s been nearly 20 days and the girls who were involved in the assault haven’t been arrested. The British police haven’t given me any details about what happened nor has the hospital provided us a single report,” Mariam's father told MEE.

"We've asked for the CCTV recordings but have been told the cameras were switched off," he added. 

Mariam, who is a dual Egyptian and Italian, has lived in the UK with her family for several years.

‘Racial discimination’

Mariam’s family believes that the UK government’s reaction has been skewed by racial discrimination.

“Her name is Mariam Mostafa, and not Cathy Johnson. If my daughter was English, they [the British authorities] would not have dealt with her in this way.”

Hatim told MEE that he had expected a lot more support from the British authorities.

“I would have expected better healthcare at the hospital. Instead of her being sent home, she was supposed to have been taken care of.

“I also expected someone from the local authorities to come to us and show the family some support. Instead, when I reached out to our local MP, he didn’t even respond to my calls.”

'If Mariam and her friends had been the assailants, there would have been a huge public outcry against Arabs and Muslims'

- Amr Hariry, her uncle

The family lives in East Nottingham, represented by Labour MP Chris Leslie, who has been contacted for comment.

Mariam’s uncle Hariry made similar allegations in his video.

“If Mariam and her friends had been the assailants, there would have been a huge public outcry against Arabs and Muslims.

"If a British citizen had been beaten up by Egyptians, the British ambassador and authorities would have reacted," said Hariri.

According to Mariam’s father, the 18-year-old had previously been assaulted by two of the alleged assailants at a park in August last year.

“When we left the hospital she told us that two of the girls who had beaten her up had been among those who assaulted her a few months ago.”       

Mariam's mother has claimed that the attack was racially motivated and that the women who killed her had repeatedly abused her in the street.

Egyptian media has reported that the perpetrators are believed to be of "African descent".

Speaking to the BBC, Mariam's sister Mallak said: "We thought England would be our future, be an engineer one day, anything we wanted to be, that's why my dad brought us to England.

"But it seems like it has actually ruined us, we didn't think England was like that."

Official reaction 

A statement from Nottinghamshire Police released on Wednesday said she had died of her injuries after a nearly month-long coma.

"Our thoughts are with the woman’s family who we are giving support to at this difficult time," they said.

Our thoughts are with the woman’s family who we are giving support to at this difficult time

- Nottinghamshire police

"Our investigation is ongoing and extensive enquiries have already been completed but we’re urging anyone with any information that could help us with our enquiries to get in touch with us as soon as possible.

"We know there were a lot of people standing at the bus stop when the assault happened and we’re urging them to please come forward with any information which could help us."

Nottinghamshire Police said there was no information "to suggest that the assault was motivated by hate but we continue to keep an open mind".

They added that a 17-year old girl had been arrested on suspicion of "assault occasioning grievous bodily harm and was subsequently released on conditional bail."

The hashtag "Mariam's rights will not be lost" has been trending in Egypt.

Egyptian media and politicians reacted with anger to the news, also claiming that her treatment in hospital had been negligent.

Egypt's prosecutor-general has requested information about the probe into her death by British officials, according to BBC Monitoring.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement on 2 March the Cairo government had been urging the British police to take more serious steps in investigating the case and also accused the hospital of "negligence".

In their statement, the Nottinghamshire Police said a Home Office post-mortem exam was due to take place.

Egypt's Immigration Minister Nabila Makram said the perpetrators needed to face severe punishment when caught.

“General Samir Taha has visited Mariam at the hospital right before her death, and he will follow up the case with the Egyptian embassy in London,” Makram said, according to Egypt Today.