Mubarak's reform

Still in Rome, but received this:

Mubarak's reform

"You bitches. You sons of bitches. This is how it is going to be from now on if you do not behave and know your limits. If you do not behave you'll have the bottom of my old shoes all over you". These and more were the exact words of Sami Sedhom, Assistant to the Egyptian Minister of Interior, Habib el Adly as he, surrounded by half a dozen state security officers into a circle of 30 peaceful protesters surrounded by five rows of riot police in front of the South Cairo court. To demonstrate what he meant, he kidnapped 6 of the protesters and then returned with the same group to arrest 5 more, putting them in a private Ford and driving them away. The remainder of the protesters were chased with kicks and worse obscenities into the neighboring streets. An hour later we heard that three of the protesters were released, with no information regarding the remaining 8. Friends of two of the detainees received phone calls from their mobile phones describing how they were being tortured. "we Are screwing them right now" were the exact words, raising fears that our colleagues may be subject to the well known brutality of Egyptian police, especially when the Sayyeda Zeinab police station director told the lawyers that the detainees were not in his custody. And while the Ministry of Interior informed Reuters that nobody was arrested!!! And while the same Ministry told Al Jazeera that everybody arrested this morning was released, the 8 detainees were being referred to the state security prosecution in Heliopolis, where protesters of the past two weeks got a 15 days extension of their imprisonment.

Today's police attack started early today, at about 10.30 a.m. when about 30 men and women were, each on their own, trying to reach the court house, where their colleagues were scheduled for a session in front of the prosecution. Supporters were prevented from walking in the street and were circled by a large number of riot police at the corner of the court house street. When news arrived that the session was postponed until tomorrow, the 8 th of May, the supporters wanted to leave but were prevented from doing so by firm closure of the riot police circle and its enforcement with hundreds more. About an hour later, the circle opened and supporters who moved to leave were met with the violence squad led by Sami Sedhom. The arrest was accompanied with beatings, squashing people together, kicking and the most obscene language, of which the quotes mentioned here were just a small example.

Our colleagues held at state security prosecution at this moment are:

- Ahmed Abdel Gawad, Ghad party, youth for change activist
- Ahmed Abdel Ghaffar, youth for change activist
- Alaa Ahmed Seif, youth for change activist, and son of Ahmed Seif the director of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, one of the most outspoken human rights organizations in Egypt.
- Asmaa Ali, Center for socialist studies and youth for change activist
- Fadi Iskandar, Karam party, youth for change activist
- Karim El Shaer, labor party and youth for change activist
- Nada el Qassas, Kefaya movement
- Rasha Azab, youth for change activist
The latest is that they are being held in administrative detention (i.e. without being charged) for 15 days. This is renewable indefinitely.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.