Bloggers Vs. Floggers: Another Video Exposes Police Brutality in Egypt

By Hoda Osman

Feb 22, 2007 1:04pm

Egyptian bloggers are exposing acts of torture in the country through cell phone videos, and the government there is fighting back. In the latest video, a police officer is seen repeatedly beating four men facing the wall on the back of their heads while continuing to curse at them. Watch an excerpt from the video.
One of the suspects cries and pleads, but the beating continues. At one point the officer turns to the camera and says, "You dogs, you shoes," while smiling. He then brings a stick that he uses to continue the beating. The video lasting two minutes and 48 seconds was posted today on the "Egyptian Awareness" blog of Wael Abbas, who has exposed abuse of detainees by Egyptian police through similar videos, including one that showed a man being sodomized with a stick. Read the Blotter’s previous report on abuse by Egyptian police. Abbas links his videos to the popular YouTube Web site to get more attention. Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. Fighting torture in Egypt through blogging has been somewhat effective. A number of officers who appeared in similar abuse videos in the past are now facing charges. It is not, however, an indication that the government is taking the matter seriously. The authorities seem to be putting a lot of effort into fighting the bloggers themselves. Today, a 22-year-old blogger has been sentenced to four years in prison for insulting Islam and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Abdel Kareem Soliman had been expelled from the Islamic Al Azhar University last year for strongly criticizing its curriculum and religious extremism on his blog. "It’s terrible that a person’s freedom is taken away because of an opinion or a belief," said Soliman in one of his previous posts. He is the first Egyptian blogger to have ever been tried for his writings. The sentence is a clear message from the government. Amnesty International condemned it in a press release issued today. "This sentence is yet another slap in the face of freedom of expression in Egypt," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Program Director. It’s "unjust and cruel but very typical of the Mubarak regime which has spent the past year stifling all form of opposition," says Mona El Tahawy, Egyptian-born commentator and lecturer on Arab and Muslim issues. El Tahawy expects the sentence will scare some bloggers, but she points out that there are many who do it anonymously to avoid harassment by the Egyptian authorities. "Blogging is important in the Arab world because the young — who have been marginalized and excluded for so long — have been able to use it to bypass the heavy state control on the media and to highlight state abuses such as torture and sexual abuse."

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