Mounting death toll and footage of police beatings prompt troubling comparisons to Mubarak's authoritarianism VIDEO
On Friday, Salon drew attention to a graphic video gaining traction online in Egypt, which shows a group of about eight riot police strip, beat and drag a middle-aged man across the street and into a police van near President Mohammed Morsi’s palace in Cairo. Over the weekend, the footage, aired first on the liberal, privately owned On TV network, has garnered widespread attention and heightened already soaring tensions after a week of intense anti-government protests.
As the Guardian’s Patrick Kingsley noted from Egypt:
The video shows Hamada Saber, reportedly a 50-year-old unemployed laborer, lying on the ground outside the presidential palace in north-east Cairo, with his trousers around his ankles, being beaten with batons and fists before being dragged into a police van.
The scene is reminiscent of the “woman in the blue bra” – a protester stripped and beaten by soldiers during protests against military rule in December 2011, whose plight became a lightning rod for opposition dissent.
Perhaps most chilling of all, however, is that Saber has since publicly stated that the police — who are shown in the footage to strike his naked body with batons and drag him by the feet along the pavement — were in fact protecting him from thieving protesters. Kingsley noted that “Saber’s account sparked fears that he had either been threatened into silence, or paid off.” Even his own daughter told a TV station that her father was “afraid to talk.”
Over 60 people have died in Egypt in the recent wave of protests against Morsi’s regime. Reports of police brutality — including the use of live ammunition and excessive levels of tear gas — are rampant and reminiscent of the violent treatment dissenters received under the deposed Hosni Mubarak.
According to the AP, one of Egypt’s opposition parties, The Popular Current party, said Monday that one of its activists has died of wounds sustained during police torture while in custody. A party spokesperson told the AP that the 28-year-old man “was electrocuted, had broken ribs and a ‘cord appeared to have been wrapped around his neck’.” A medical report cited brain hemorrhage as cause of death.
Although dramatic scenes from Cairo, drenched in the fog of tear gas, have garnered Western media focus, most of the killings have occurred away from the capital, in the coastal town of Port Said. According to earlier reports from Kingsley, Port Said “has been at the center of recent conflict and is one of just three cities near the Suez Canal that has been in a state of emergency since [last] Sunday” and 40 people have been killed in the recent wave of unrest. Local residents’ comments to Kingsley convey a troubling sentiment that Morsi’s authoritarianism is the same, if not worse, than Mubarak’s:
Local residents said that at least 20 of the deaths occurred between Sabbah and Hay el-Kuwait streets, a crossroads in plain view of the prison in the distance. “Everyone crossing this street had a bullet in their head or in their chest,” claimed Rahman, a watchmaker whose shop front was flecked with bullet holes.
… [F]ishmonger Said Mohamed Hassan rolled down his trousers to reveal a two-year-old wound on his thigh, which he claimed he received at the same crossroads – and from the same sniper position – during the revolution that overthrew Mubarak. “Before [under Mubarak] they were shooting us in the legs. Now they’re shooting us in the head,” he said. “It’s not even the same. It’s worse.”
Warning, highly graphic, violent footage of the incident involving Saber and Egyptian riot police:
Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email firstname.lastname@example.org. More Natasha Lennard.
More Related Stories
- 2 more arrested in London attacks
- Glenn Beck: CNN interview with atheist tornado survivor was a setup!
- Incoming BBC news director on journalism gender gap: "We can do better"
- Illegal construction, shoddy materials at fault in Bangladesh factory disaster
- Ahead of Obama's speech, U.S. acknowledges four American drone killings
- Must-see morning clip: Bill O'Reilly visits "The Daily Show"
- Lawsuit alleges anti-gay hiring practices at ExxonMobil
- Boy Scouts poised to vote, still greatly divided on gay youth
- House supporters of KXL received $56m from fossil fuel industry
- 80-year-old becomes oldest to climb Mount Everest
- Before FBI shooting man implicated self, Tsarnaev in triple murder
- Paul McCartney backs Pussy Riot
- UK emergency committee convenes after attack
- Brave scout leader tried to reason with London attackers
- If Alex Pareene were a cable news executive...
- El Salvador court delays ruling on abortion case while woman's life hangs in the balance
- UK officials: Radical Islam behind London attack
- Pa. governor "can't find" any Latinos to work in his administration
- London machete attack could be linked to terrorism
- Conservative group blames military sexual assault on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal
- Lois Lerner, IRS disaster
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11