End Torture in Egypt Now!
Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 9th July, 2010
This evening I joined about 100 Egyptians and friends from Amnesty International and other human rights organisations for a very dignified demonstration at Marble Arch in protest against torture in Egypt. The problem has been endemic in Egypt for many years but it has particularly come to international attention recently with the savage beating and killing last month of a gentle-faced 28-year-old young man called Khaled Said in Alexandria. Police made a swoop on an internet café in that city and when he protested at their attitude, he was savagely attacked by two cops and then dragged off into custody. Some time later, his body — his face badly mashed — was dumped in a street. The police’s explanation was that he had been set on by hoodlums, but nobody believes that. The former head of the International Atomic Energy Authority in Vienna, Mohamed El Baradei — who is trying with only mixed success to become the focus for the democratic opposition to longstanding President Hosni Mubarak — took up the case of Khaled Said at a demonstration in Alexandria recently. That was heavily policed, though not broken up. The idea of allowing peaceful demonstrations is alien to Egyptian state mentality. In fact, the country has been under a state of emergency since the assassination of Anwar El Sadat 30 years ago. And of course, as Mubarak is one of Washington’s client sons (currently aged 85, incidentally), little pressure is usually put on the Egyptian authorities from the United States. It is time that the West, including Britain, turned up the heat to show that their defence of human rights is not just empty words. Latest reports suggest that the two cops will go on trial later this month, but it is important that they are not made scapegoats, as the problem is much wider than just two heavy-handed policemen.