Post-Mubarak Egypt: Plus ça Change …

Where Waterboarding Is Child's Play

There are a few academic definitions of “revolution,” but they all come down to one sentence: “Dramatic change in a relatively short period of time.”

It could take some time to change the political system of a country; it could take some time to draft a new constitution, elect a new parliament, even a new president … but it will definitely take so many years to get rid of the culture of fear when you have been living for so long in a police state.

It is understandable that criminals usually need rehabilitation, but what is not conceivable is when you find a situation where police officers need to be rehabilitated and retrained to properly serve and protect the people according to a code of ethics that is universally agreed upon.

Torture was the only department the regimes of the Arab dictators excelled at. When the clueless Mr. Bush launched his stupid crusade, better known as the war on terror, he used to send abducted suspects of the so called al-Qaeda over to Morocco, Egypt and Jordan for innovative techniques of questioning that made waterboarding looked benign.

The Egyptians revolted not against Mubarak, per se; rather they protested against living in a police state that acted, not according to the order of law, but under the emergency law, where every suspect is guilty until proven otherwise. And in the meantime he is most likely to be humiliated like never before in his life and stripped of his dignity and pride. And if he was to get out of his imprisonment again, he will likely to walk out as a human wreck.

Of course, there were social and economic grievances behind the Egyptian revolution, but there was much more to this unique Tahrir Square phenomenon than just bread and butter. There were popular demands to restore a lost dignity.

The honeymoon between the Egyptian military and the protesters did not last long. Tahrir Square, which had been the scene of jubilant celebrations, soon turned into a battlefield, as the army moved to violently disperse activists, beating them with clubs and electric rods – even firing live ammunition – leading to many casualties.

Hundreds were dragged away to trucks and thrown in prison. Between January 28 and August 29, almost 12,000 civilians were tried in military tribunals, far more than Mubarak managed in 30 years of dictatorship. Torture by police and military personnel remains widespread with hundreds of cases involving beatings, electrocution, and sexual assault reported.

A video was released lately revealing army and police officers torturing citizens in Kurdi police station in the governorate of Dakahlia (lying north east of Cairo).

The video showed three half-naked, bound and blindfolded citizens with officers stepping on them with their shoes. The video then shows an officer from the Special Forces electrocuting the citizens behind on their ears with taser guns, making them scream while being interrogated.

The video showed some familiar officers who appeared during the Egyptian January 25 Revolution, from the army, police and the Special Forces.

It is worth mentioning that the two suspects being tortured in the video were caught red-handed robbing and looting, but I don’t think this fact could make this whole mockery of human rights and legal procedures less reprehensible.

The Egyptian police/military forces might as well have saved themselves the trouble and bombarded the two men at the crime scene by some drone attacks as Obama did Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.

However, the Awlaki case is no comparison to the Egyptian police misconduct. I mean, the suspects were at least brought in for questioning. We have to give the Egyptian police credit for that.

Dr. Ashraf Ezzat is a medical doctor who writes articles about ancient Egyptian history, ancient Near Eastern history, comparative religion, and politics, especially the Arab- Israeli conflict. He can be contacted at: Read other articles by Ashraf, or visit Ashraf's website.