Egypt: The Face That Launched A Revolution


In perhaps the most infamous case prior to Khaled Said, Cairo bus driver Imad Kabir was sodomized by police, who taped it all, and then sent the video to his coworkers as a warning.

Kabir's crime? He said he was trying to break up a fight between his brother and a police officer. Thanks to the video, and to Kabir's testimony in open court, the police officers were prosecuted and convicted for sodomizing Kabir, and sentenced to three years of hard labor.

Kabir's abuse was publicized online by blogger Wael Abbas, who since 2005 has been well-known in Egypt for collecting videos of alleged police abuse and posting them on his YouTube channel and his blog, Other videos among the many posted by Abbas appear to show beatings by police, a man with a bare, bloody back begging for mercy in a police station, and a female murder suspect hanging upside down and moaning. Abbas told ABC News earlier this week that during the protests he has been concerned for his safety and worried about reprisals.

"The number of videos that have been posted on line over the past few years that really scandalize this issue of police brutality is remarkable," said Iskander. "And the reaction has been absolute outrage. Human rights organizations have called on Egypt to restrain its police force and its torture of citizens. In fact, some argue that this very revolution may have begun precisely to try to prevent police brutality.

Omar Suleiman: Torturer-in-Chief?

For many, Egypt's torturer–in-chief is the country's new vice-president Omar Suleiman. Until last week, the 74-year-old Suleiman, a veteran of the Mubarak regime, was the head of the country's intelligence service, the Mukhabarat.

Said Whitson, "What we know about Omar Suleiman is that he has a long history of involvement, of course, in the intelligence agency of the country, and a long record of involvement in torture and abuse of detainees."

Suleiman is also closely tied to the U.S., considered a great help in the interrogation of terror suspects sent to Egypt by the CIA under a so-called "rendition" program that began in the 1990s.

"It was a symbiotic relationship," explained Emile Nakhleh, a former top Middle East analyst for the CIA. "We benefitted from it, they benefitted from it. But all along our senior policy makers kept telling them that they need to institute real reform very quietly but consistently and they never listened."

Some of the secret US cables made public by Wikileaks show American officials were fully aware of the problem.

"Omar Suleiman and the interior minister keep the domestic beasts at bay and Mubarak is not one to lose sleep over their tactics," wrote one American diplomat in Cairo 2009.

"I would say his hands are deep on the torture system," said Whitson, "beyond fingerprints."

For Egyptians, the hands of Suleiman and Mubarakhave left permanent scars. The scars will be forever visible in online videos, whether of a bus driver who didn't show the desired respect to the police, or a young man who sought to expose police corruption, but would not live to see the power of what he started.

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