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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Haleem El Shaarani Recounts How He was detained during Unknown Soldier Memorial Clashes

Haleem El Shaarani , the photographer in Daily News Egypt was detained for couple of hours by police when he was covering the Unknown memorial clashes. I am honored that he asked me to publish his testimony in both English and Arabic in Egyptian Chronicles.Haleem is a friend and his work on Flickr and Daily News Egypt is great.
Here is his testimony in English.
On The Saturday the 27th of July , my editor sent me to cover Tahrir square’s demonstrations to mandate the army in fighting terrorism. After I was done I went back home to hear about clashes between security forces and Morsi supporters taking place in Nasr road near Raba’a El Adaweya square where the Morsi supporters sit-in is taking place. So I rushed to cover the clashes , once the taxi driver dropped me by El Sekka El Haded club I walked to underneath 6th of October bridge only to find Central Security Forces blocking the road and preventing anybody from going any further into the road. I could see armored vehicles moving and hear bird shots and tear gas canisters being fired.
The officers did not allow me to pass and they were not aggressive at all , specially after I showed them my press ID card. They were young officers whose ranks are lieutenant and captain. So I asked one of them if I should take the other way around. The officer replied “you can but as if I did not hear anything”. 
So I took the other way around where I met residents of the area. After I asked them what happened they replied saying the do not know anything they just reached the clashes. So I went to take photos of police officers and residents clashing with Morsi supporters under the pedestrian bridge which is located beside Nasr City club. 

 Then I thought of moving to the other lane where police is still clashing with Morsi supporters. I chose to stand between two armored vehicles to take a photo of an officer shooting tear gas at Morsi supporters. As I took a step behind the armored vehicle to take a look at the photos I took a plain clothes policeman who was wearing a vest and a helmet stopped me and asked me who I am , then I replied saying I am journalist.
He answered” and what are you doing here ? “ surprised by his answer I told him “ sir , this is our job just how it is your job” while I showed him my Daily News Egypt ID card. Then he told me “I am currently violating the rules are you going to take photos of me while I violate the rules?”  I told him “no sir” then he tells me to give him the camera , then I panicked and started to sticking to my camera while I told him “ sir I will delete them” then he told me “no” and starts pulling it away from me while he slapped me and after he took it he hit me with it.
Then he told the enlisted officer to take my phone too while another officer took off my gas mask, everything happened so fast. Then he gestured to the enlisted officer to take me some where. Then the enlisted officer took me and I thought he was taking me away from the clashes then I started asking what happens to my press ID , the camera , the gas mask and my mobile phone which they took from me.
Then I do not remember anything but my panicking after the enlisted officer told me I am going to the prison truck. But I became more comfortable after they did not put me in the inner part of the truck with all the prisoners , instead they put me in the outer part where soldiers and enlisted officers guard the inner part’s door. Then I stayed in the truck for about two hours , during that time I saw soldiers and enlisted officers dragging Morsi supporters to the inner part of the truck while beating them severely.
Also during that time I heard the soldiers outside the car talking about a female journalist who got beaten and arrested after she slapped a police officer and police conscripts who lost their sights after Morsi supporters shot bird shots at them. Then they started moving to the police station where a soldier took me without getting out of the car with out of the rest of the detainees. The moment I entered I was afraid of entering into the cell where they keep criminals.
Then I felt comfortable again when the police officer told me I will not go inside, instead they kept me waiting by the reception . as I waited , I saw many brotherhood members entering the police station while they get beaten by junior officers. I was surprised when a lieutenant colonel  ordered them to stop hitting the detainees. I got out after I spent about 3 hours in the police station when my brother in-law came over and the officers made sure that all the photos were deleted off my camera and my phone without returning my press ID and my gas mask.
Here is Halim’s testimony in Arabic as well
اول ما رجعت البيت بعد ما خلصت تغطية مظاهرات التوفيض في ميدان التحرير سمعت عن إشتباكات شارع النصر الي كانت ما بين قوات الشرطة و مؤيدين مرسي. فنزلت بسرعه عشان اغطي الأحداث. فنزلني التاكسي عند نادي السكة الحديد عشان ميدخلش في وسط الضرب , فإتمشيت لحد تحت كوبري أكتوبر و هناك لقيت في كردون أمني قافل الطريق بس كنت سامع ضرب قنابل الغاز و شوفت مدرعات بتتحرك من بعيد , و كانو كل الظباط الي واقفين ظباط صغيرين , منعوني من الدخول و سألت احد الظباط اذا ممكن ادخل من ورا فقالي ماشي بس انا مسمعتش حاجه , قمت وصلت من طريق تاني للإشتباكات و صورت صورتين للأهالي و الشرطة و هما بيشتبكو مع مؤيدين مرسي.
صورت صورتين و لقيت في شرطة تاني في الحارة التانية من الطريق فروحت اصور. دخلت ما بين مدرعين عشان اصور ظابط بيضرب قنبلة غاز. و انا راجع ورا المدرعة عشان ابص عالصور لقيت ظابط تاني بيسألني انا مين , رديت عليه قولتلو انا صحفي. قام سألني و بتعمل ايه هنا ؟ فاستغربت و قولتلو "حضرتك دا شغلنا زي ما هو شغلكو فقالي : "انا بتجاوز إنت حتصورني و انا بتجاوز؟ " قولتلو لأ يا فندم قالي طب هات الكاميرا انا حمسح الصور الي عليها فخفت و قولتلو لأ يا فندم خلاص حمسحهم انا و انا متوتر قام قالي لأ هات انا حمسحهم و هو بيزعق و ضربني قلم و فضل يشد مني الكاميرا لحد ما خدعا بعد ما ضربني قلم و بعد ما خدها ضربني بيها , و اثناء ذلك كان في ظابط تاني ضربني قلمين و شال ماسك الغاز من علي وشي , قام قال هات التليفون كمان و خلي أمين الشرطة ياخد مني تليفوني و كارنيه الصحافه بتاعي الي انا وريتو للظابط و خدني و مشينا بعيد عن الظابط قولتلو طب و حاجتي ؟ علي اساس إن انا كنت فاكر إني رايح بره الإشتباكات و حيبعدني و خلاص فلقيتو بيقولي عربية الترحيلات , ساعتها إتخضيت و قولتلو طب خليني ارجع اكلم الظابط بس مفيش.
قمت ركبت عربية الترحيلات بصيت لقيتهم بدل ما يركبوني جوه خالص في العربية لقيتهم ركبوني في الجزء الخارجي , فاطئمنيت شويه. بعد ما ركبت سمعت العساكر بيتكلمو عن صحفية اجنبية ضربت ظابط بالقلم عشان وقفها و هي بتصور. و بعديها بشويه بصيت لقيت مجموعة من مؤيدين مرسي داخلين علي عربية الترحيلات قدامي مدخلهم امناء شرطة و بيضربوهم ضرب مبرح و في واحد منهم كان متعور قال للأمين انا عايز إسعاف قالو إسعاف ايه يابن و يابن و ضربو و دخلوهم علي جوه جت بعديها بشويه مجموعه تانيه و بعد كده طلعنا عالقسم.
عند القسم جالي جوز اختي و امي و مجموعة من اصدقائي فضلت هناك شويه بس مدخلتش الحجز لكن الي جم معايا و دخلو جوا خالص دخلتهم الشرطة عالحجز فاطمئنيت شويه, المهم قعدوني عند التخشيبه و شويه و لقيت جوز اختي داخل عليا و بيتكلم مع الظباط و فضلت تلت ساعات من القسم لحد ما خرجت بعد ما مسحولي كل الصور من علي الكاميرا و اتأكدو إن كل حاجه ممسوحه من علي التليفون بعد ما خلوني افتح كلمة السر بتاعتو , الجدير بالذكر إن الظباط كانو بيتكلمو علي ظابط إضرب بالنار في دماغو و عساكر فقدت بصيرتها بسبب الخرطوي الي بيضربوه مؤيدين مرسي , و في مجموعة من مؤيدين مرسي دخلو الظباط الصغيرين كانو نازلين فيهم ضرب  مبرح جيه مقدم منعهم و قالهم بس , و بعديها جات مجموعه اخري كان فيها قصر و كنت انا ساعتها دخلت مكتب "مدير التحقيقات" زي ما كان مكتوب عليه و المجموع دي كان فيها قصر اعمارهم حوالي 15 14 سنه و كانو بيتحرقو من الغاز سابوهم الأمناء شويه و ضحكو عليهم لحد ما جابلهم بيبسي غسلو بيهم وشهم , لحد بعديها بشويه جالي مأمور القسم وراني كاميرتي و تليفوني و قالي مش دي حاجتك ؟ قولتلو اه قالي ماشي إستني اما نشوفلك بقية حاجتك و بعديها بشويه لقيت جوز اختي بيقولي الكارنيه ضاع مش لاقيينو و كنت ناسي ماسك الغاز فمسألتش عليه , بعديها ظابط جيه و شاف كل الي علي تليفوني في صور الكاميرا و  مرضيش يفتح اي البومات تانيه علي اساس ان ممكن يكون عليها صور شخصية و إتأكد ان كل حاجه اتمسحت من عالكاميرا بعد كده طلعت
Yes journalists now in Egypt are being attacked by everybody and everyone. Cameras are feared more than guns nowadays. Some people know that the truth hurts


  1. this is how baradei's and sawaris's government treat journalists

  2. Oh. Animals fighting animals have more common sense.

    In a civilized society, the police is trained to do their job without hitting, injuring, and killing even criminals they are out to get, and in doing so, they avoid hurting innocent people who happened to be there, and they allow others, including journalists, to do their job. Unfortunately, our police didn't learn how to do that, and if they did, they readily forget it when they are themselves under attack. Unfortunately, too, that happened everywhere. Do something to those police officers other than resist them peacefully, and be sure they would return that force with much more force. That doesn't happen only in Cairo; it happened in Los Angeles, New York, London, and especially Istanbul.

    This time in Cairo, those police "thugs" happened to be also fighting some "Islamists" thugs, who always claim to be peaceful, but none of what they did so far show that they are. They carry sticks, knives, swords, guns, and other means of beating, torturing, injuring, and killing not only innocent people, but police officers as well. For some reason, they decided that God on their side, and that what they are doing to the young and old is justified for the sake of Islam. There is not enough space here to include even some tiny examples of what these thugs did in mosques in Alexandria, or in an their "clinics" in Cairo, or in the streets in Mansoura.

    Read the above again, best in Arabic as well as in English, and you will find these "peaceful" thugs shooting police officers in the head, or blinding them with bird shots. It is no surprise that other officers behave in such ugly and unprofessional manner. But how can you blame them, especially if you are "living" in the middle of this mess, and hoping that something, any thing, can be done to clean the streets from such endless blockages, and screams, and threats to your life, and your children lives.

    As for your friend, Mr. Haleem El shaarani, I am happy he is back at home, safely. I am glad that he ended in the hands of the police, and not inside a mosque, or a "clinic" that is controlled by those thugs who falsely claim that Islam is on their side. Elh.

  3. If I were an Egyptian I would be supporting the Third Square movement to the maximum extent possible.

  4. That is why the invented the undelete utilities! You can undelete the photos from your SSD :)
    - Take photos
    - Get captured by police
    - Delete photos
    - Get released
    - Undelete photos
    - publish
    - :)


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