February 8, 2011

Ghonim and Said

Friends of mine, even politically aware friends, ask what's up with the Egyptian "revolution"? Why are they revolting? Most of my friends aren't aware of what is meant by "brutal dictatorship". Khaled Said is the unfortunate classic example.

Khalid Said

On June 18, 2010, the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) reported that:

Egyptian businessman Khalid Said died during what witnesses say was a brutal public beating by police officers on June 6 in Alexandria, [Egypt].

He was described as "an affable, middle-class man." The CSM reported that:

The government’s first official autopsy report claimed that Said died from asphyxiation after swallowing a plastic bag of narcotics when he was approached by police. Said’s family and witnesses at the Internet cafe where police apprehended him tell a different story, saying police began the abuse in the cafe, then dragged him outside, where they beat him to death.

Said was reportedly targeted because he intended to make public a video that allegedly shows police officers dividing the spoils of a drug bust. Graphic pictures of the injuries that killed Said, coupled with the public nature of his beating death ... have propelled his tragic case to prominence, largely through posts on social-networking sites and blogs.

The following photo of Said, prominently displayed on a Facebook site, drives home the word "brutal."

Another Facebook website entitled "We are all Khalid Said" is credited with promoting the uprisings widely said to have begun January 25, 2010. Until recently, the initiator of "We are all Khalid Said" website was unknown.

What was known, however, was that Wael Ghonim was snatched from the streets of Egypt by plain-clothed police. He was widely described on Tweets in late January as a "Google Executive"People of Egypt feared the worst as the days passed with no word on the fate of @Ghonim, as he was known on Twitter. Video of Ghonim being snatched chilled people who understood what the word "brutal" means in the phrase "brutal dictatorship".[1]

Arrest widely said to be Google Exec Wael Ghonim

Then, on February 7, 2012, Wael Ghonim was released. Egyptian blogger @Sandmonkey and @ SultanAlQassemi tweeted the some of the first translations of an interview with Wael Ghonim with Dream TV. Some of Ghonim's statements, roughly translated & tweeted by SultanAlQassemi follow (not originally tweeted in this order):

I was taking a taxi, suddenly four people surrounded the car, I yelled "Help me, Help me" I was blindfolded then taken away. [Doesn't fit with video above, but see link to video with English subscripts below]

They wanted details, information. "Are the people who planned this outsiders?" We didn't do anything wrong, this was an appeal

The interrogators wanted to know if outsiders were involved. I convinced them this was a purely Egyptian movement.

The treatment was very good, they knew I was a good Egyptian. I was blindfolded for 12 days, I didn't see their faces.

I kept thinking "are people thinking of me?" I was wondering if my family knew where I was, my wife, dad, mother.

I can't claim I know what happened when I was inside. I didn't know anything until one day before I left.

I met with the Minister of Interior today. He was sat like any other citizen. He spoke to me like an equal. I respected that

I told the Interior Minister if I stripped naked & told people that I was beaten even without marks they would believe me.

I told the Interior Minister we have two problems 1- we don't talk to each other, this must be solved, 2- There is no trust

There were several men in the room with me & the Minister of Interior. I asked him if I can speak about this he said as u wish

The youth on the streets made Dr Hossam Badrawi (General Secretary of NDP [Mubarak's political party]) drive me to my house today

I am not a hero. I was only used the keyboard, the real heroes are the ones on the ground. Those I can't name.

I spent all my time on computer working for my country. I wasn't optimistic on the 25th but now I can't believe it

The DreamTV interview with Wael Ghonim, with subtitles, the day he was released.

[1] The film repeats, the second time in slow motion. Notice a point in the film in which three police are walking @Ghonim away when fourth police comes in from the right of the screen and lifts off one of his feet as he violently grabs @Ghonim's by the hair, yanking his head down.



Anonymous said...

My cousin was married to an Egyptian. Late one night after a family party, I was talking to him about Egypt. Saying (so naively)that I thought Egypt had a stable government. He went on to tell me about the repression & poverty that haunted his nation. How he didn't think it could last.
But that was about 6 years ago. He was right, however. And our support of Mubarak will continue to haunt us.

libhom said...

The US seems to be heading in the direction of Mubarek.