Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Egypt remembers man whose death sparked revolution

By MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press – Mon Jun 6, 2011

CAIRO – Crowds of Egyptians dressed in black held demonstrations Monday to
honor a young man from Alexandria beaten to death a year ago in a savage
attack blamed on police that helped inspire the uprising that brought down
Egypt's president.

Photographs of Khaled Said's badly disfigured and bloodied face were
posted on the Internet and became an instant rallying point for
campaigners trying to bring attention to rampant police brutality under
the regime of Hosni Mubarak.

A Facebook page in his honor called "We are all Khaled Said" was used
months later to call for the protests that toppled Mubarak on Feb. 11.

On Monday's anniversary of his death, crowds held protests in Cairo and
Alexandria to remember him and draw attention to continued abuses by
Egyptian police.

In Cairo, about 300 activists demonstrated in front of the Interior
Ministry, spray-painting pictures of Said's face onto a wall of the
building and around its entrance. They raised banners reading "Enough
police abuse" and calling for the trial of those who killed protesters in
Egypt's uprising.

Some chanted, "Is Mubarak still ruling or what?" and "We are all Khaled

Around 100 others in black help pictures of Said on one of the main
bridges across the Nile, passing out leaflets calling for a large protest
Monday against police abuse.

A year later, Said's death continues to stir anger, especially since the
policemen accused of killing him are still on trial. The court is set to
issue its verdict at the end of this month.

The trial of police agents Mahmoud Salah and Awad Ismail Suleiman was
postponed repeatedly after Mubarak's ouster because court officials said
it would be difficult to secure the proceedings.

The circumstances of Said's slaying — witnesses say two plainclothes
officers dragged him from an Internet cafe and beat him to death on the
street — resonated with many young Egyptians.

The reason he was confronted by police has never been fully explained.

Security forces and forensics reports initially maintained Said suffocated
by swallowing a packet of drugs when he was approached — a claim met with
derision after the photos were circulated showing his body covered with
bruises, his teeth broken and jaw smashed.

After a public outcry, prosecutors charged Salah and Suleiman with illegal
arrest and harsh treatment, falling short of his family's demands for a
murder charge.

Said's family visited his grave in an Alexandria cemetery on Monday. His
mother, Laila Marzouq, wearing a pendant around her neck with a photo of
her son, sat beside the tombstone.

In front of Said's house in Alexandria, his family and hundreds of
protesters in black held a silent demonstration.

"As long as there is no prosecution of those who practiced torture there
will be always torture," said his sister, Zuhra. "As long as there is no
punishment, no justice, I can't forgive."

Adding to Egyptians' frustration is the continuation of police abuse even
after Egypt's most feared security apparatus, State Security, was
dissolved after Mubarak's ouster.

Rights activists have raised claims that several people have been killed
by police in recent weeks. In one case, a bus driver is believed to have
been beaten to death by police in downtown Cairo.

Egypt's interim military rulers are also accused of abusing protesters
detained during rallies calling for a faster transition to democracy and
quick prosecution of Mubarak and other regime officials.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Council of The Armed Forces announced Monday that
in mid-June it will end the overnight curfew that has been in place in
many parts of Egypt since the uprising.

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