Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 5 August 2020

Journalist one of two young UAE residents killed in Cairo

Habiba Abd El Aziz, a 26-year-old reporter for Gulf News, was shot and killed in Egypt during the military clearance of protest sites.
DUBAI // Two UAE residents were killed during violent struggles with Egyptian security forces in Cairo yesterday.

Habiba Abd El Aziz, 26, and Ahmed Sonbol, 24, died when the military moved in to clear protestors from Rabia Al Adawiyya Square.

Habiba and Ahmed were among thousands demonstrating to demand the restoration of the Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, who was deposed on July 3.

Habiba had taken leave from her job as a crime reporter for the Xpress tabloid in Dubai.

Her last post on Facebook yesterday read: "Death, here we come. We are not afraid of you but you of us."

She was killed after being shot in the head at about noon, according to her mother.

The Muslim Brotherhood said as many as 250 people were killed and thousands injured in Cairo yesterday as security forces began clearing out protest sites.

In one of her final texts to her mother, Habiba said the mosque she was in had been turned into a field hospital.

"Only journalists were allowed to remain in the building. I'm supposed to cover the monument in case the battle starts," she wrote.

She later told her mother: "It's very cold here and I'm shivering. The crowds are massive and on high alert. Pray for us mother."

Her last message said she was heading to a nearby platform.

Habiba studied mass communication at the American University of Sharjah (AUS) before joining Gulf News in September 2011 as a trainee community journalist. She began working as a crime and court reporter for the group's tabloid, Xpress, in April last year.

The editor of Gulf News, Abdul Hamid Ahmad, confirmed that Habiba had not been on assignment and described her death as a shock. "Her colleagues are very sad to lose a colleague like this," he said.

A former coworker said she was a talented reporter. "She was God-fearing, open-minded and a hard worker. She seemed very happy when she was about to go on leave on the first of this month."

Habiba was passionate about politics and what was happening in Egypt, he added. "She was very well informed and involved with what was happening in Egypt, and would always partake in debates with fellow reporters and editors. She had a logical way of thinking and respected everyone's opinions."

Harris Breslow, associate professor of mass communications at AUS, said the university community was in mourning.

"I didn't personally teach Habiba but I remember her very well," he said. "She was a wonderful student, the type of student everyone wants to teach - intelligent, with a big smile and very quick witted.

"I spoke to her many times about journalism and Egypt and I got the impression she had a really big future ahead of her.

"I can tell you she was very, very well liked by her fellow journalism students. She was clearly someone destined for a great deal of success."

A friend of Habiba, who asked not to be named, said she had participated in the revolution of January 25.

"She was very well educated, polite and always spoke with a quiet tone," she said. "She used to talk a lot about political issues, mainly that of her country.

"She was proud of what her people could do after 30 years of oppression. Her dream was to die as a martyr."

Little is known about the life or death of Ahmed Sonbol, 24, who also died in Egypt.

Condolences were passed on to his five sisters through social media yesterday, all referring to him as a martyr.

News of his death had yet to be passed to his father last night, who is detained in the UAE.

malkhan@thenational.ae

Updated: August 15, 2013 04:00 AM

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