Toronto man killed in Egypt protests

A Toronto resident has been laid to rest in Egypt after he was killed in the country's deadly clashes.

Canadian permanent resident Amr Kassem shot by sniper in Alexandria

Wife mourns Canadian resident killed in Egypt

9 years ago
Duration 5:42
Funeral held for Amr Kassem, 26

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A Toronto resident has been laid to rest in Egypt after he was killed in the country's deadly clashes.

Amr Kassem, a Canadian permanent resident, lived in Toronto but was visiting relatives when he decided to join the protests in Alexandria.

Kassem’s widow, Asmaa Hussein, said his funeral took place on Saturday but was interrupted when a group of men crashed the procession, hurling rocks at the mourners.

Hussein said she was struck in the face with a stone as she fled the cemetery.

Widow hit with stone

"We didn’t exactly know what was happening but everyone was saying 'let the women go ahead of us,'" Hussein said.

"From what I gather, there were some thugs who heard that there was a funeral of a religious person, and they came and started attacking the people who were at the funeral," she said.

The mourners ran out to the street and scattered, Hussein said in an interview with CBC News. She added that due to the danger of returning, she had no idea where in the cemetery her husband’s body was laid to rest.

'He was obviously chosen out of a crowd. They were choosing people.'—Asmaa Hussein, Amr Kassem's widow

Hussein said that while on vacation, her husband was watching the clashes and grew more and more enraged after seeing the sit-ins broken up by the army and seeing hundreds of people killed. Kassem decided to join the crowds on the streets of Alexandria on Friday to protest the military’s actions peacefully, she said.

According to Hussein, her husband called her throughout the day to keep in touch, but the last call that came in was not from her husband, but from a stranger who dialed the last number called on the phone to inform the person on the other end of the line that Kassem had been killed.

"I’m fairly clear about what happened," she said.

Men with beards targeted

Kassem had a beard, and according to his widow people with beards are targeted because they’re visibly religious.

Hussein said that according to a doctor’s analysis, her husband was shot by a sniper in the back on his spine, resulting in a quick death.

"So, he was obviously chosen out of a crowd. They were choosing people," Hussein said. "The only question I really have is how can this person live with themselves?"

Now Hussein is trying to make her way back to Canada with her nine-month-old daughter. They are trying to plan the trip to avoid the fighting, but Cairo is a major travel hub in the Middle East, and the logistics of a return trip are proving difficult.

"I am worried about my safety and the safety of my daughter… really worried. I hope that things settle down in the best way possible," said Hussein.

"I hope that my husband’s death wasn’t in vain. I hope that it raises awareness and it makes people think twice about what’s happening, and how they can prevent these things from happening to innocent people in the future. "