- Egyptians are protesting a conviction of doctor in Saudi Arabia who was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment and 1,500 lashes after he was found guilty of malpractice.
Doctor Raouf Amin el-Arabi, who has been serving Saudi royal family for about 20 years, was convicted after giving Saudi princess an over dose medication that got her addicted to painkiller morphine during medical treatment.
A Saudi court initially sentenced Mr el-Arabi to seven years in prison and 750 lashes but upon his appeal his sentence was doubled to reach 15 years in prison and 1,500 lashes.
Protestors who marched to headquarters of Egypt's doctors' union in downtown Cairo have also urged Saudi King Abdullah to pardon Mr el-Arabi.
"How can I breath or take a sip of water while my husband is being whipped in the middle of the street there?" Fatheyya Shehata, Mr el-Arabi's wife who denied the allegations brought against 53-year-old husband questioned.
"I call at the top of my voice on president Hosni Mubarak to intervene personally to secure the release of my husband for the sake of my children," she said.
Human rights advocate Negad Borai was quoted in the local press as saying: "The Egyptian government feels inferior to Saudi Arabia, and this gives it and other Gulf countries the chance to humiliate Egyptians living there."
Whipping is standard punishment in Saudi kingdom, whose judicial system follows fundamentalist Wahhabi doctrines. Such practices have long been a bone of contention between Riyadh and international human rights organisations.
The case has drawn nationwide criticism in Egypt and local human rights groups have demanded that Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who maintains close ties with Saudi royal family to intervene to free el-Arabi.
Egyptian doctor's organisation condemned verdict as worse than death and addressed a letter to president Hosni Mubarak calling on him to intervene in order to put an end to this tragedy. The association also called for a demonstration next week in protest of the verdict.
"President Mubarak should withdraw the Egyptian ambassador in Saudi Arabia to save the dignity of Egyptians and to respond to this bloody verdict that contradicts God's laws and logic," wrote Mostafa Rashed in a comment posted on the website of independent daily Al Masry al Youm.
Saudi government has refrained from comment but Egyptian newspapers report that Mr el-Arabi was treating a female member of the royal family when he was accused of driving a patient to addiction.
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