Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another Lawless Night

On the way home late at at night, we saw a man being brutally beaten, tortured and humiliated in plain view by another. This was one night ago late Friday night or the early hours of Saturday. It was on  Tahrir street, right next to the Misr petrol station off Galaa square. It was right near the Sheraton and opposite Faisal Islamic Bank.

Regime Accessories - Graffiti in Zamalek
I was walking home with my friends from Zamalek to my house when we saw a man, his hands disproportionately larger than his body, with a knife in his hand corner another man against a wall and pound on him with the back of the knife, beat him and humiliate him. The scene was surreal, in the middle of a main street, right next to a busy gas station late at night, in plain view of the bank guards opposite the street.

My friends wanted to interfere. I didn’t know what it was about and so I thought I’d try finding some policemen. I knew that one of the ministers of interior that have served lived around the corner, so I went to the entrance. It wasn’t as full of police personnel, I think it’s because he was no longer serving, nevertheless, I saw a man with a machine gun at the gate and I asked him, “Isn’t this where the minister of interior lives?”

He said, “What is it?”

I said, “Two guys are fighting on the street around the corner, and one of them has a knife.”

He said, “So what, there are 90 million people in Egypt, so what if they’re fighting?”

I said, “So you won’t send someone round?”

He replied, “Dokki police station is right over there, you should go report it to them.”

I said, “I guess they’ll be just like you and probably won’t do anything.”

As I started to leave, I turned to him and said, “All that matters is that the pacha up there is doing okay and is well protected.”

We left back to the street and saw that the scene hadn’t changed. No police car had passed by, and people around the fighting men were sitting idly. I called 122, the police, knowing full well they would do nothing. I told them I had been to the house of the ex minister of interior and they told me they’d do nothing, and I told him I know them on the phone I knew they wouldn’t send anyone out but I reported the situation. He asked for my name and asked if this was my number, and I said yes.

We waited and watched and filmed a little and then I decided that the police station was just a minute’s walk away and that it would be better to tell someone than not at all.

I walked with my friends and explained the situation at the gate. “There are two men fighting on the street right next to the gas station, actually it’s one of them beating the other up and he’s armed.”

“Do you mean the two scruffy looking guys?” one of them said.

I said, “Yes.”

“You should go in take a left and then go down the stairs,” he said.

“What for? I know that no one will do anything about it,” I responded.

Another one laughed and said, “This man is being very honest, he knows what he’s talking about.”

I responded and said, “That’s right, if this was someone in government or someone who owned a factory you’d be moving to serve them. You only serve power.”

A third looked at me and said, “What you talking to me for?”

I pointed to his car and said, “Look, you have a patrol car.”

He said, “But this is not my block.”

I turned away frustrated and walked back to the main street. Still that man was beating the other, doing some kicks and pretty much humiliating him.

Just as I was about to forget about it, I thought I’d do all I can do and go in and report it inside the police station as advised. I walked in and found the young men in their white shiny uniforms. I said that I had reported this before and I explained the situation. They wanted to send me off but then decided that someone was already on their way.

Shami who was with me said, “The man could be dead by now.”

The officers smiled and said, “Don’t worry. Even if he dies, we’re the ones that will have to clean up after. We’ll get them.”

Shami, Tariq and I were surprised by the answer. But was I really? People meant nothing to them.

“But if one of you goes there, you’d be able to solve it straight away, it’s just outside the station.”

“Our duty is not to leave the station, don’t worry, someone is on his way already.”

So we left the police station. As we walked past we contemplated whether we should interfere or not. As we walked of Tarek said, “We should have told them that two people were kissing on the street, maybe then they would have moved.”

We laughed for a few seconds and then realized how sad it was he was right.

I was sickened, but I realized I wasn’t sickened by that one man beating down on the other. I was sickened by the other thugs in uniform who beat down on those that opposed the ruling gang but would not move to save an ordinary citizen’s life. We should have got rid of all those police thugs when we had the chance.

Video shot by Mohamed El Shami

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is this resentfulness played out by the police? The revolution proved that they are untrustworthy and people; with good reason; wanted them all gone and new members inserted. So how do they pay the public back? By not showing up when needed - finding excuses to look like they are doing their job (manning the station while someone is being stabbed to death)!
I know in the 'west' you are advised to yell 'fire' if you are in need of anothers' assistance, but that is for the average citizen, not the police. They are there to serve and protect the people from unlawfulness and it's a pledge that they take upon commission as a police officer. Did they drop that out of the Egyptian police pledge now? They had those ads where they were helping people with broken down cars and some other things - are they really that paranoid that if they went out of the station someone might attack it or break in for some reason, or that the minister might get attacked - like it's all plots to attack them?? As for saying 'someone kissing', what do you think would have happened if you said it was a copt attacking another - how many police would have been available then?