Thursday, 6 June 2013

There are still many Khaled Saids

Khaled Said Graffiti

Today - June, 6, 2013 - marks the three year anniversary of the day Khaled Said (28) was beaten to death by police officers on the streets of Alexandria.

Soon after Said's death a horrific picture of his mutilated face circulated on the internet. Then-Google employee and now-political activist Wael Ghonim created a Facebook page for Said called 'Kullina Khaled Said', Egyptian-Arabic for 'We are all Khaled Said'. The page generated a lot of attention for Said's case and police brutality in Egypt in general. A few months later, Ghonim would be one of the first Egyptians to call for mass protests against the Mubarak regime, using the Khaled Said tribute page to reach an audience.

Because of this, the death of Khaled Said is often seen as the final straw in mobilising the Egyptian people into the uprising of January 2011. I'm not sure if that's true, but one thing that is certain is that an end to police brutality in general was one of the main demands of the revolution.

Unfortunately, there were many more Khaled Saids before him and there have been many since January 2011. Police brutality in Egypt has all but disappeared.

The number of children that have been arrested (and often tortured whilst imprisoned) has risen sharply:  since January 2011 hundreds of kids have been arrested and / or assaulted by the Egyptian police. A tragic low point was the death of the 12-year-old street vendor Omar Salah, who was shot to death in downtown Cairo in broad daylight.

Political activists still regularly 'disappear', only to show up in hospital months later, on the verge of death, or they are dumped by the roadside whilst still barely alive. Ghonim himself 'disappeared' for a while during the first eighteen days of the revolution.

Sometimes the story is that they were in a car accident, like the protester Mohamed El Guindy. Sometimes their family never gets to see them again at all. And these are just the cases that get (foreign) media attention. Please also read this report by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, detailing the ongoing police violence.

Taha Hussein and Mohammed El -Guindy

In October 2011, two police officers were sentenced to seven years in prison each for the death of Khaled Said.

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