Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How to celebrate Egypt's Police Day

Today Egyptians are enjoying an enforced holiday in honour of their national police – but revellers should beware

Jack Shenker
guardian.co.uk, Monday 25 January 2010

"Happy Police Day! For those not lucky enough to be familiar with Egypt's annual jamboree celebrating the world's most prestigious cops, concerned Egyptian citizens – eager to ensure you make the most of this public holiday – have issued a checklist of essential Police Day merchandise that every reveller should be sporting.....

3. Teabags – Unfortunately refreshments will not be provided at this year's celebrations, and you are encouraged to bring your own. Please remember to buy any hot drinks or snacks legally and not purloin them on the sly, as 13-year-old Muhammad Abdel Aziz allegedly did two years ago. After being detained by police for six days he was released with burn marks over his flesh and a hole in his back; he died four days later in a public hospital after claiming he had been electrocuted by officers. Thankfully as a result of the scandal a strong public message was sent out regarding the immorality of stealing food; incidentally, under the current government one in three Egyptian children suffer from malnutrition.

4. A mobile phone camera – Probably the single most useful item on the checklist if you are planning to spend any time enjoying the hospitality of the constabulary, as they are currently trying to expand their YouTube presence. As well as a 13-minute clip detailing the abuse of Muhammad Abdel Aziz, above, other popular highlights have included the sexual assault of Emad al-Kebir, a 22-year-old microbus driver who tried to intervene in an argument between his cousin and a police officer and who for his troubles was sodomised with a stick, hit with a pair of shoes and whipped, and an infamous video from Wael Abbas's blog showing a man in police custody being repeatedly slapped. Those thinking of shooting their own films are encouraged to seek inspiration from the Torture in Egypt and Piggipedia websites.

5. Bulletproof vests – Any party-goers planning to question the benevolent rule of President Hosni Mubarak or the ruling NDP party on this special occasion are advised to equip themselves with some unobtrusive body armour. Up to four individuals were killed during an attempted strike and anti-government demonstrations in the textile town of Mahalla al-Kubra in April 2008, including a 15-year-old boy who was shot dead by police when he stepped out onto his balcony to see what was happening......

7. Bricks (or tyres) – The final ingredient for a successful Police Day can be adapted according to local circumstances. In Ezbet al-Haggana, a poor informal quarter in north-eastern Cairo, residents found pieces of masonry to be the most effective aid when it came to reasoning with a police squadron who had come to demolish their houses, allegedly at the behest of a rich government crony who wanted to develop the land for commercial use. The result of this friendly misunderstanding can be seen here – particular attention should be paid to the speed at which the armed police retire from the area and bunker down in their police station, politely spurred on by affable locals. In the Sinai, the object of choice during similar incidents is a mountain of car tyres, preferably aflame. Just such a construction was recently pressed into use as a visual illustration for the benefit of police, who had hitherto failed to grasp the mild absurdity of Egypt's government refusing to send aid to the victims of freak flooding in the region, but instead ordering in the long arm of the law, who attempted to assist wet, hungry and homeless residents with truncheons and riot shields......"

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