Dr. Ashraf Ramelah
2018 / 8 / 3
When a citizen encounters danger there is really only one thing to do-;- go to the police. A policeman’s duty is to protect and serve the citizens. In Egypt, over the doorway of every police station is a slogan pertaining to this commitment. It reads, “Police are for the service of the people,” which is the very slogan painted across every police car in Egypt.
This past week, when an Egyptian Copt was threatened by a thug that broke into his place of business he decided to go to his local police station to report the issue. He trusted their slogan in the new post-Mubarak and post-Morsi era. He tested it out, and now this law-abiding citizen is dead.
It all began in Bani Sweef, a province of Upper Egypt where the victim, a married man with four children, was an owner of a barber shop. According to the man’s wife when seen on local TV, the horrible event began when a local resident contacted her husband by phone at home reporting that he broke open the lock on the front door of his barber shop. The caller then asked her husband for the sum of five thousand Egyptian pounds. This man went on to threaten her husband that should he not receive this sum he would burn down the shop.
After the call ended, her husband contacted a neighbor close by his shop asking him to check the status of the store. The neighbor verified that the door lock was in fact broken, but the store was intact.
On Friday (July 20), the day after the telephone conversation, the barber stayed home with his family because on Friday in Egypt shops are customarily closed. By the end of the day, he suggested going on a family outing. Before returning home, he decided to stop by the local police office to report the break-in and threat.
Arriving at the police station about 9:00 p.m., his wife insisted that he park their car near the entrance of the police station so she could keep an eye out for his return. After waiting for half an hour she became concerned about his delay. Worried, she called her husband’s mobile phone nearly fifty times. He never picked up.
Meanwhile, after nearly an hour, the wife received a phone call from her sister who questioned her about the location of her husband. When she replied that he was inside the police station, her sister said that she was just informed that he was transported to the local hospital. This information shocked the family sitting inside the waiting car, especially since they had been watching the front door. There were no strange movements nor did an ambulance arrive´-or-leave.
Since the wife is unable to drive, she locked the car and hailed a taxi for her and the children to be transported to the hospital. The wife recorded that during the trip she was trying to imagine what could have possibly happened to her husband.
The wife recalled, “Arriving at the hospital I found my husband stretched out dead on a bed in an empty room, however, my father and my brother-in-law were there among a group of police officers.” An officer asked the wife’s identity and she replied.
The police told her that, “Your husband was attacked by a man named Mohammed Yihia.” (This was the man who broke into the store and threatened her husband and was being reported on.) Then, when the wife stated to the police that she and her children were sitting in their car facing the station and did not see any one entering´-or-leaving it, the officer immediately changed his story. Now the police stated that her husband suffered an “attack of diabetes and fell into a coma.”
The wife then said that her husband was not diabetic´-or-sick in any way. Furthermore, the wife reported to the local news that she noticed his body had various black and blue areas under his eyes and white foam coming from his mouth.
The police officers hastily offered the wife firm -dir-ection to begin the necessary paperwork for her husband’s funeral. However, she protested and demanded an official autopsy by forensic medicine. The officers answered that there was no need for it. The wife persisted while two police officers guarded the dead body across the room. The officers were in a hurry to remove the body to the hospital morgue rather than to have it viewed by anyone else. All the while, the officers pressured her in-laws to forego a medical examination.
The wife further reported that police tried to pressure them to bury her husband immediately, which led her to request an order from the local district attorney to mandate an autopsy. This was granted.
The above story is typical of what happens in Egypt when a known affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood commits a crime against a Christian, in this case, an innocent shopkeeper and his family. Many incidents go unreported.
In spite of the tenacity of the barber’s wife in demanding a medical examination of her husband’s body, the power of the deep state will assure that the truth be buried under the Egyptian sands as many previously similar occurrences have. The wife may have won on the issue of the autopsy, but its results would always favor the police version. A wide avenue thereby remains for Egypt’s state police to torture and kill citizens, which is readily accomplished under President Al Sisi’s administration of “democratic” martial law.