[Marxism] Egyptians outraged over cops beating naked man
lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Feb 3 10:47:46 MST 2013
NY Times February 2, 2013
Egypt’s Government Apologizes After a Beating Is Televised
By KAREEM FAHIM and MAI AYYAD
CAIRO — Egypt’s interior minister offered a rare apology on Saturday
after officers under his command were seen on television beating a naked
man two blocks from the presidential palace. But under what his family
said was police coercion, the victim, Hamada Saber, said in an interview
later that the officers had been helping rather than attacking him.
The spectacle of the beating quickly revived fury at Egypt’s police
force, whose record of brutality helped set off the revolt against Hosni
Mubarak, the former president, and served as a reminder that nearly two
years later, the new president, Mohamed Morsi, had taken few steps to
reform the police.
Mr. Morsi’s office issued a statement saying it was “pained by the
More than 50 people have been killed over the last 10 days in fighting
in several Egyptian cities, in some of the worst violence since the fall
of Mr. Mubarak in 2011. The beating of Mr. Saber has provoked a
different kind of outrage, crystallizing for many the collapse of order
and civility that has derailed Egypt’s transition from its authoritarian
In the shifting versions of the attack given on Saturday, it was hard to
know exactly what happened.
In video images, a group of riot police officers are heard cursing at
Mr. Saber on Friday night as they beat him on the ground and drag him
across a street to an armored vehicle. A witness, Mai Sirry, said that
when she saw Mr. Saber, his pants were around his knees. In its initial
statement, the Interior Ministry said it regretted the beating and
called it an “individual attack” that did not reflect police doctrine.
Later, though, in a television interview, Mr. Saber gave an account of
the beating from his hospital bed in which he said the officers had come
to help as he was running from a group of protesters who had stripped
and robbed him. They had apparently thought he was an officer, he said,
and left him alone after deciding he was “just an old man.”
“I was afraid,” he said, adding that as he ran away from the protesters,
officers came to help. He ran from them too, but they pulled him back,
he said, telling him he would die if he did not let them help him.
A woman who identified herself as Mr. Saber’s daughter Randa, speaking
Saturday on another Egyptian channel, said her father was being prompted
to lie during the interview and was “afraid to talk.”
“We were with him” when he was attacked on Friday, she said. “They took
his clothes off and started kicking him, beating him,” she said,
referring to the police. “They dragged him and put him in the car. All
this happened. What he says are lies.”
Speaking to local news media on Saturday, the interior minister, Mohamed
Ibrahim, said that after Mr. Saber was released from the hospital, he
would invite him to the ministry’s offices to offer his apologies. He
repeated Mr. Saber’s account, though he still acknowledged that the
officers’ conduct was “excessive” and said he had ordered an investigation.
The latest violence deepened the sense of crisis in Egypt, and it
undermined efforts by the country’s quarreling political forces to
settle their differences. After the clashes, supporters and opponents of
President Morsi blamed each other.
On Saturday, just days after leaders of a secular-leaning opposition
coalition sat down at a rare meeting with representatives of Mr. Morsi’s
Freedom and Justice Party, the opposition group released a statement
saying it was “aligned” with those who want “to topple the regime of
tyranny, and domination of the Muslim Brotherhood.”
In Tahrir Square early on Saturday morning, Mr. Morsi’s prime minister,
Hesham Qandil, bore the brunt of the antigovernment anger. He was forced
to cut short his visit to protest tents in the square after he was
heckled, according to state media. His office said Mr. Qandil left to
avoid creating a “pretext” for violence.
In a speech later in the day, the prime minister acknowledged the
widespread perception that both the government and opposition were
losing control. “Let us admit that the government, all the political
forces, all the parties failed in containing the youth,” he said. “This
is something that we all have to work on.”
At least one person was killed in the clashes on Friday, which broke up
what had been a peaceful afternoon sit-in, when a small group of
protesters, some wearing masks, tried to ram the gates of the
presidential palace, according to video of the episode.
David D. Kirkpatrick contributed reporting.
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