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Uploaded footage of a young woman killed by a police shotgun blast on Saturday spread rapidly across social networks this week, prompting authorities first to deny the police were involved, and then, when incontrovertible video evidence emerged that they were, to issue a ban on leaving this mortal coil by way of being hit by a law-enforcement fusillade.
The incident began as a commemoration of protesters killed during anti-government demonstrations, but the nonviolent gathering was not approved by Egyptian authorities, leading the police to open fire on the protesters. Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, 32, was hit in the chest and died soon afterwards. The following day, 18 more protesters were killed, and although their deaths had less of an impact in international media, the Sisi government immediately moved to make dying in such a fashion illegal.
The courts will now be authorized to levy stiff penalties on those caught losing their lives during confrontations with police, with lesser fines for bystanders or passers by not directly involved in the protest. Funerals for those who died unlawfully will be similarly banned, and anyone caught conducting or attending such a funeral will be charged, as well. Illegal funeral attendees who get killed by police will face the stiffest penalties of all.
"The malcontents fomenting unrest must understand the threat to pubic safety that dying by cop presents," said Sisi spokesman Thisaint Selma. "The Egyptian people will no longer tolerate those who, ostensibly in their name, go and get themselves killed, and endanger others in the process. This must stop immediately." He vowed that the government and police would act with a "strong hand" to bring violators to justice.
The announcement elicited objections from the Association of Funeral Directors, who accused the government of harming their livelihood. "The lading cause of death in Cairo over the last four years has been police gunfire," noted the group's chairman, Al-Digg Thenberi. "Our industry's services have been in high demand, and now our chief source of livelihood will be removed. We ask the government to help us negotiate this new situation."
At the same time, enterprising attorneys have begun advising their clients to make use of official media information in formulating either a defense or preemptive action to forestall accusations or convictions of dying at the hands of law enforcement. "Government-controlled news outlets are chock-full of stories about Jews controlling all sorts of important industries, and how notorious they are for framing others and getting others to do the dirty work," explained Geddaway Withett, whose firm specializes in legal defense. "It shouldn't be too difficult to persuade the judge that it was all a Zionist conspiracy."