Mohamad Adam and I had a look at the Central Security Forces, Egypt’s paramilitary rabble of young men who didn’t make the cut for the army and who are used mostly to suppress dissent. We were lucky enough to talk to a conscript, Hossam, who served during the revolution. Hossam was philosophical about his brutalization at the hands of his superiors, saying it is necessary to “make men” of the conscripts. He says however that on Friday 28 January 2011 his commanding officers – who had always told Hossam to “be a man” fled and left them.
What stayed me with the most about Hossam’s description of his life in the CSF was his account of the first time he left the camp, 35 days after he had been conscripted:
“I was so happy because I was out of the camp and seeing people. Yes, people made fun of us and swore at us and threw bottles of water at us … but it was still beautiful.”