CAIRO: Social media users in Egypt have shared an injunction issued by an Egyptian lawyer to Chinese President Xi Jinping calling on China to pay $10 trillion due to the damages caused by the coronavirus in Egypt.
Egyptian lawyer Mohamed Talaat based his move on US President Donald Trump’s comments that the virus originated in China, with the US president several times calling it the “Chinese virus.” Talaat also relied on media sources, which he did not name, that said China had produced the virus as a biological weapon.
As of Sunday, Egypt had registered 1,173 cases of coronavirus with 78 deaths.
Speaking to Arab News, Talaat said that the reason he was taking legal action against China was to safeguard Egyptian rights, especially after news agencies and Trump announced that COVID-19 was “Chinese made.”
Talaat, who lives in the Gharbeya governorate south of Cairo and who is filing the lawsuit via the Chinese embassy in Cairo, was driven by allegations by an American lawyer to file a case against Beijing’s government demanding that it pay $20 trillion in compensation for damage caused by the virus.
Press reports circulated last week that US lawyer Larry Klayman slapped a lawsuit fining China $20 trillion, accusing Beijing of developing and spreading the coronavirus to use it as a biological weapon. The reports were published on the website Freedom Watch, a human rights organization chaired by Klayman.
Talaat said that he urged Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on social media to take up the case and to form a committee of international law experts who would help take the issue to the highest authorities.
Talaat reportedly has not coordinated with anyone in government. He said that Egypt’s government “doesn’t interfere in judicial issues and maintains a neutral stance.” Regarding reaction to his move, he said that there were supporters and detractors, adding there were some people dealing with the issue “too lightly and sarcastically.”
He rejected comments made by a Kuwaiti journalist who described the step as “Egyptians pursuing dollars.”
“I want to ask why he didn’t attack the United States or the lawyer who filed a case against China in the US? Is it just because I’m an Egyptian lawyer?” Talaat asked.
“Egyptians are filing a court case against China’s president calling on him to pay $10 trillion due to the coronavirus and the suspension of Egyptian flights!” the journalist tweeted on his Twitter account. “The world is looking for a cure for the virus and there are those who are looking for dollars!” He attached the Egyptian lawsuit to his tweet.
Talaat claimed that a number of Italian citizens have phoned to coordinate with him “for the sake of the Italian government.”
“If further communication takes place, I will definitely inform the Egyptian government with regards to the details and names to prevent exploiting the case,” Talaat said.
Talaat added that the suspension of flights to and from Egypt prevented him from traveling to take more serious action. He said in his statement that “when things return to normal and flights resume, I will be able to fly anywhere in the world to promote my case, and legally pursue the Chinese government.”
“What I did was the first step in what is coming,” Talaat said, referring to why he did not address Egypt’s public prosecutor. “We as Egyptians have rights. The president of the world’s biggest country confirmed the issue. America is suffering huge fatalities which did not happen in all the wars it waged.”
For several years, many Egyptian lawyers have added their names to lawsuits in public relations stunts that stir controversy, hoping for fame and TV interviews. However, some of these cases have gone to court.