A video of a Jordanian member of parliament and his three brothers beating up an Egyptian waiter has caused public outrage. The incident happened on Friday evening at a restaurant in Aqaba and was caught on CCTV.
In the surveillance video, dated October 2 2015, two men in black suits and a man in a black t-shirt are seen standing in a hallway. One of them – supposedly the Jordanian MP Zaid El-Shawakbah – calls over a waiter, Egyptian Khalid El-Sayed.
The MP starts talking to the waiter, grabbing him by the shoulder and pointing his index finger at his chest several times. A few seconds later a man to the left of the MP hits El-Sayed in the side of his head at which point several workers of the restaurant step in to try and protect El-Sayyed, but he gets slapped again by a man standing to the right of the MP.
A man in a white dress shirt – supposedly the MP’s brother Anwar – then leaps into the frame and hits El-Sayyed in the face several times. The incident then moves out of the view of the security camera. Throughout the attack El-Sayed seems surprised and doesn’t defend himself.
According to eyewitnesses the assault continued off camera and El-Sayed supposedly received more slaps and a kick.
“When I went back to work after the Friday evening prayer they were waiting for me in the hallway of the restaurant and started intimidating me. They said that as a foreigner, I should show respect for Jordanian customers. Suddenly, the MP’s brother lashed out at me and then the beating started,” El-Sayed told of his ordeal in a telephone interview with the Jordanian radio show Wasat El-Balad.
El-Sayed insists the MP never hit him, but claims the MP’s brother called him a ‘dog’ and threw a slipper at him. The MP himself threatened El-Sayed “and all Egyptian workers in Amman” with deportation.
“There is justice in this country and I am not afraid,” El-Sayed added. “I have lived in Jordan for 11 years and I have never seen anything like this.” El-Sayed tells the radio show’s host the MP’s brother, Anwar, first came to the restaurant on Wednesday, but in other news reports the waiter has stated Anwar first arrived at the restaurant on Thursday. He got angry at El-Sayed for not receiving his order quickly enough and because he thought the waiter was not being respectful. Anwar and his three brothers then came back on Friday.
Zaid El-Shawakbah has released a statement. He claims the waiter insulted his brother and was disrespectful to Anwar El-Shawakbah when he came to buy a sandwich at the restaurant on Thursday. They were subsequently told by the manager the waiter would be deported on Sunday.
The brothers came back to the restaurant for an apology from the waiter on Friday. Zaid states he ‘couldn’t control himself’ when he was confronted with the waiter.
Pictures of El-Sayed’s bruised face have been published on several news websites. The waiter spent a night in the hospital to recover from his injuries. A police report has been filed against the assailants.
The video of the assault has since gone viral with people from both countries condemning the attack. “This is what you get with a government that has successfully destroyed all values in society,” reads one comment on Twitter, while a viewer on YouTube suggests the MP and his brothers should be deported instead of the waiter. Many reactions call the waiter ‘more honorable’ than the MP and many readers lament the poor working conditions for Egyptians in Jordan.
An estimated 400,000 Egyptians work in Jordan, mostly in construction and the service industry. They generally work long hours for low wages while workers’ rights are ignored.
The incident has also drawn attention from government officials with the Egyptian foreign ministry posting an official statement saying that ‘the Egyptian Consulate is following up on the legal action’.
Mohammad Al-Moumni, the Jordanian minister for media affairs, released a statement in which he said that Jordan values their foreign workers, and that bilateral relations with Egypt are remarkable on every level, adding that king Abdullah is in constant contact with president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi about the case.
Egypt’s ambassador to Jordan, Khaled Tharwat, commented that the embassy does not accept prejudice against or assaults on any Egyptian working in the kingdom, and that Egyptian workers contribute significantly to the Jordanian economy. The ambassador visited El-Sayed in the hospital, adding that “Our visit to the Egyptian worker was to deliver a message to him, and to all the Egyptian workers in Aqaba, that the embassy and the consulate will not abandon them, and that we stand by their side.”