Egyptian Activist Known as 'Sandmonkey' Reveals Identity After Police Beating

Mahmoud Salem said he was beaten, detained. "Police operate on fear."

ByABC News
January 25, 2011, 1:58 PM

Feb. 7, 2011 — -- After he said he was beaten by police, a popular Egyptian blogger has revealed his identity and his role in posting dozens of graphic videos showing police beating and torturing their victims.

"[It's] horrific stuff and they like to take pictures and video of it and showcase it to other people," Mahmoud Salem, author of the blog "Rantings of a Sandmonkey," told ABC News. "They have those videos to terrorize people... Our police operates on fear. It doesn't recognize or respect the law."

In one of the videos, a woman in pain as she hangs from a pole by her wrists and legs. She was left there for a day, Salem said.

But while videos reportedly showing police beating suspects are not uncommon, it was the alleged murder of 28-year-old Khaled Said at the hands of police -- and the widespread publicity the man's death received online with the help of activists bloggers like Salem and tributes on Facebook -- that "fueled this revolution" in Egypt, Salem said.

"Khaled Said caused a huge outrage in Egypt," Salem said of the man who was allegedly beaten to death by police in broad daylight in June 2010. "If you've seen the picture of what they've done to him, it was the most brutal thing I have ever seen... This caused an outrage in Egypt but nothing happened. This is what fueled this revolution more or less. The fact that there are no rights and no accountability. You could kill a guy and not get punished. You cannot have that."

Outrage over the June 6 incident sparked the creation of a huge Facebook group called We Are All Khaled Said, with more than 40,000 on-line supporters. It was that web site which first called for Egyptians to gather in protest on a day of anger on January 25 -- a date chosen because it is officially celebrated as "National Police Day" in Egypt.

When protestors gathered in the streets on January 25 in Alexandria, Said's photo was carried aloft in posters and banners. Egyptians across the country have not stopped protesting since.

CLICK HERE to read ABC News' report on Khaled Said: The Face That Launched a Revolution.

Salem said that he witnessed the police brutality first hand last week when he attempted to escape a mob by asking for the help of nearby police. "That was our biggest mistake," he said.

"They incited all the people to attack us, claiming we are tourists and Zionist agents," Salem told ABC News over the weekend. "Most of them [the mob] were security, but in street clothes... They started attacking the car, kicking the windows. I discovered that fighting one is OK, but fighting five isn't working, so I got in the car and they were smashing the car.

"It was a horrific scene. It lasted 35 minutes of us stuck in the car while they were destroying it and beating us inside," he said. "They wanted to tear us apart."

Salem said he was finally rescued by other policemen and taken to a police station. But there no one would file a police report and they were eventually driven to a tunnel and told to make their own way home.