Boys in blue

I read the world’s most depressing article the other day, entitled ‘Policemen have rights too!’ which made me want to hug a copper and then chuck myself off a bridge.

Egyptian policemen are not exactly flavour of the month here given the proclivity of some of their members to insert strange objects in even stranger orifices, and record the proceedings on mobile phone cameras. The article (published in a respected independent newspaper) describes the experiences of ordinary policemen, and in the process demonstrates the complicated nexus between victim hood and oppression. Their stories once again demonstrate that even those who abuse their authority in order to wound others are themselves being crushed by the monster in our midst. What is most frightening is how these conditions are apparently endured without vocal complaint; that the most precious thing of which these men (and the Egyptian people) have been robbed is their ability to imagine, to even contemplate an alternative existence and refuse the reality imposed on them.

Extracts:

“Every so often a higher ranking officer goes past, and when he does you’d better not be standing crooked, or with your hands in your pockets or bending your leg. And it’s a catastrophe if you go the toilet. You’re not allowed to move, you have to stand still throughout your hours of duty and if you don’t you get fined and lose bonuses.”

“Ya basha what other government sector in Egypt works 12- 14 hours a day? And without appreciation or even a kind word…Even you lot from the press and the media insult and scorn us every day, and blame all of us when one man smacks a suspect…What’s it got to do with me? I don’t hit anyone and I’ve never insulted anyone – on the contrary, we have to stand in the street putting up with crap while we police the traffic and while we’re on guard duty and some stupid teenager comes up to us and threatens us and speaks down to us and insults us…and we can’t go to the police station all the time and make a complaint…”

“I’ve worked in the police for 29 years, from Aswan to Siwa to Marsa Matrouh to Damietta…I’m in a flat and my kids are in another flat in Cairo, so I have to pay for two flats. I get time off once every two weeks or sometimes once every month, and I can say that I have spent the Eid with my family seven times in 29 years. I’ve been in this rank for 13 years because there are no spaces in the higher ranks, and my salary after bonuses is 1,420 pounds a month…What can I tell you… I swear that I am ready to travel to Libya or any other country – I wont ask for a contract in France, or America. We’re fed up, we’ve had enough and we’re disgusted. We see the corruption with our own eyes – thieving happens openly and the country is being sold before our very eyes and everyone is helping themselves everywhere you turn.”

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7 Responses to Boys in blue

  1. Will E. says:

    odd how distant we are from the police and yet we have something in common, we’re both silently suffering.

  2. Memz says:

    I gotta say, although I haven’t met any good cops or bad cops in general, but I think definitely the actions of some has made me loose trust in the whole police force.

    Maybe one day, they will be able to change their image, but it will take a lot after how they “police, maba7es etc) treated Egyptians in the last 60 years!

  3. Con says:

    I’d been thinking about this lately, especially in light of recent high profile abuses. We’ve all seen with our own eyes how desperate things are for both cops and accused. It’s a pyramid of abuse, top-down, and the bottom layers of the pyramid, the street people, the accused, the weak and powerless, and, I guess the dogs and donkeys, all get it from above. So it is refreshing to hear the voices of some of those oppressed who are more often shown as oppressors. Which newspaper was this? And was it in Arabic or English?

  4. Con says:

    ignore which newspaper/which language question, i opened my eyes and saw the link

  5. Humphrey Appleby says:

    My dad had a distant relative who was a traffic warden. He used to run into him on his way back from work (manning the traffic lights) and he would take him home for a hot meal and give him some cash. The next day, my dad told me he was driving to work and said traffic warden saw his car and proceeded to wipe the windshield for him!

    They’re mostly simple, transplanted peasants. And when you put them in power, you never know what kind of evil, misguided shit will come out of them.

  6. zoss says:

    related: isis chats with officers manning the press-syndicate sit-in.

  7. ramy says:

    i still cannot forget to my amazement one day when i discovered that the motto of the ministry of interior had mysteriously evolved — when? –from “el shorta fe khedmet el sha3b” to “el shorta wel sha3b fe khedmet el watan”…

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