Category Archives: Human Rights

History of Egypt’s police: From liberators to oppressors

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This article first appeared in Al-Masry Al-Youm English Edition one day before the revolution (Mon, 24/01/2011)

Any Egyptian policeman would delight at reading The Times of 26 January 1952 in which Egyptian police were portrayed as having led the resistance to British occupation.  At that time, two years before the signing of the Evacuation Treaty of British forces from Egypt, anti-British sentiments had reached their peak in the country.

Egyptian historians write about how ordinary Egyptians expressed anti-British sentiments, Egyptian workers boycotted British military bases, and farmers refused to deliver basic foods to British bases near the Canal Zone, which hosted around 80,000 British soldiers and officers.

On 25 January 1952, British forces in the city of Ismailia asked the city’s two principal police stations to evacuate the buildings and surrender their guns. Then Interior Minister Fuad Serag Eddin requested the policemen not to surrender and, if necessary, fight for their dignity as Egyptian patriots. Continue reading


A look back at Egypt’s military violence (Timeline)


During the 18-day uprising that drove former President Hosni Mubarak from power, the military was praised for allegedly refusing orders to shoot protesters. But since the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces took power on 11 February, military forces have killed more than 50 people, including 10 in the latest round of violence which began on 16 December.

Egypt’s military rulers say that the people they targeted were not the true revolutionaries of Tahrir Square, an argument that plays on preconceptions that those dressed in shabby clothes do not belong to the neat, professional middle-class “Facebook youth” who brought about the revolution. A quick glance at those killed dispels this classist myth, however. On Friday, Emad Effat, an Al-Azhar sheikh, was shot dead. So was Alaa Abdel Hadi, a medical student at Ain Shams University.

The martyrs at the hands of the army include the poor and middle-class, professionals and unemployed, religious and secular, Christian and Muslim.

It wasn’t until April that the military became directly implicated in the murder of protesters, but the army’s legacy of violence goes back to its first days in power. But even in other incidents where scores were killed by Ministry of Interior forces, the army’s soldiers have stood by and watched. During the notorious Battle of the Camel, in which plain-clothed pro-Mubarak thugs attacked protesters in Tahrir Square, the army refused to intervene. Continue reading

HRW: SCAF curbs on free press, assembly before poll

On the eve of landmark elections, the international human rights watch dog “Human Rights Watch” has issued a lengthy statement documenting the “repeated violations of free expression and free assembly” in Egypt.

The New York-based group has said in a statement entitled “Egypt: Curbs on Free Press, Assembly Before Poll”:

Ahead of the vote, SCAF should cancel emergency laws that curb assembly and allow for mass detention without charge or trial, order an end to military trials, stop harassment of bloggers and other critics of the government, and permit free, peaceful assembly.

Statement by EU High Representative, Catherine Ashton, on the situation in Egypt

The European Union’s foreign policy Chief Catherine Ashton Saturday called for an end to the “violence” in Egypt between demonstrators and security forces. She has said on a statement: Continue reading

Amnesty: military junta crushed hopes of the revolution

Egypt’s military junta is applying the same hated tactics of severe repression used by the former regime of President Hosni Mubarak, international human rights watchdog Amnesty International said in a report issued Tuesday, adding that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has “crushed” the hopes of revolutionary protesters. Continue reading

Tantawi speech ruffles Tahrir

A protester throws a teargas canister back at riot police during clashes near Tahrir Square on Monday. Photograph: Asmaa Waguih/Reuters

I have written with Heba Afify this reaction story following Tantawi’s speech:

Less than two hours after the speech by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, clashes have erupted again on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, a sign that activists and politician say indicates that the nation’s military rulers are following the former regime’s  failed strategy to remain in power. Continue reading

Losing eyes, but not vision

(L-R) Activist Ahmed Harara, Almasry Alyoum Videojournalist Ahmed Abdel Fatah, Activist Malek Mostafa were all shot in the eye by police during clashes between protesters and riot police in Tahrir Square, November 19,2011. Photo by: Almasry Alyoum

My colleagues Heba Afify and Rana Khazbakhave written this moving piece about three heroes who were in the front-lines in the battle against SCAF and police committing the same Mubarak-era abuses.

Continue reading