Egyptians Protest Police Brutality
|July 23, 2010|
"Down with Husni Mubarak," "Down with Emergency law" are among the chants echoing throughout Egyptian cities today. As part of the "Revolution of Silence," hundreds of Egyptians have taken to the streets to protest police brutality. Khaled Said, an Egyptian citizen, was killed on June 6th by security forces who beat him to death for asking why he was being searched at an Internet cafe. Activists today gathered in multiple cities including Cairo, Alexandria, Mansoura, Tanta and Domiat. Many bloggers have reported that demonstrators are being attacked by the Egyptian police and dozens have been detained. Some were released shortly after their detention. Others are still in custody. Details in Arabic can be found at the website of the April 6 movement.
Since Said's murder, Egyptian cyberdissidents have organized Facebook groups and online petitions calling for justice against those who beat him to death.
Khaled Mohamed Said, 28, had been sitting at an Internet cafe when two police officers appeared and began asking people to show identification and searching them. When Khaled asked for a reason for the search he was brutally beaten to death. He was tortured in public and no one was intervened. One eyewitness who was interviewed after the incident said, "They kept beating him. He tried to defend himself so they slammed his head against the wall."
Khaled was a tech-savvy businessman who came from a middle class family. His neighbors described him as “a typical young man who spent much of his time listening to music and browsing the Internet.”
Khaled’s brother, Ahmed, was interviewed about the incident and said, "This was revenge for exposing the policemen in an Internet video.” He claims that Khaled was targeted because he posted a video of Egyptian police officers engaging in corrupt behavior, splitting profits from a drug deal among themselves.
Egyptians have been living under a state of emergency law since 1967. The law was recently extended for yet another two year period. Under the emergency law, the government can suspend basic civil liberties. Though the Egyptian regime has said the law will only be used against those engaging in terrorism or drug-related crimes, Khaled was involved in no such activity.
Khaled’s murder has become a protest symbol against police brutality in Egypt. Activists named him the “martyr of the emergency law.” The incident has received a lot of attention on social media; bystanders took pictures and immediately loaded the graphic images onto the Internet using Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.
Last month, demonstrations were held in Alexandria, the city where Khaled was killed. Police beat up protesters and arrested 11 people, one of whom was Khaled’s cousin. When this story broke, approximately 1000 people gathered to protest in front of police stations in Egypt. A few days later there was a demonstration outside the Interior Ministry where approximately 30 people were detained.
Various Egyptian activists have set a picture of Said as their own profile picture on Facebook. A Facebook group was started called “My name is Khaled Mohammed Said" (facebook.com/khaledkilled) and the number of members has already reached approximately 150,000. “We are all Khaled Said” is another Facebook page created to make his senseless murder known to the world.
Video just posted to YouTube from today's protests.
More footage of today's demonstrations can be found here. Another Facebook support page can be found here. Video of last month's demonstrations in Alexandria can be viewed here. Follow the story on Twitter here.