August 21, 2014

Egypt is not Ferguson

Comparing the brutality of the police in Ferguson to that of the police in Egypt is something that is not only wrong; wrong as in the thought process is pathetically flawed; But it is also sad (in a really pathetic way) that instead of us trying to find ways to correct our wrongs we are, yet again, doing our best to justify them, and in a pathetic look-the-US-is-doing-it-too way.

This is the wrong comparison because:
1.     There is nothing called the “Police” in the US. Every city has its own “local” police that reports to an “elected”  “civilian” “public servant”. All of the four words I’ve used to describe the hierarchy in that structure are considered profanities in Egypt. Each one of those four characteristics make it impossible to draw any parallels with what happened in Egypt, because there is no such thing as the “American” law enforcement entity (save for the FBI which covers federal crimes) and Mr. Obama is not responsible for the “US police”. Every city / town have their own police which reports to their mayor and a state police which reports to their governor (both are elected by the way). The police in one city are completely different than the next, in terms of uniform, equipment, training, levels of corruption (or lack thereof), size of the force, etc. ; there is no “US police” code of conduct. Every community can decide for itself how it wants its police to operate. And when “their”– not the President’s – police does not perform the way they expect it to, they don’t “elect” the mayor / governor again. One cannot – therefore – say that the “American Police” are doing this or that. There is no such thing. Egypt, on the other hand, has a central government that reports directly to the president. The police is the full responsibility of the head of state. Right there comparing the US and Egypt is wrong. 

2.  The family of the victim that got shot, filed a case against the police and an “independent” public attorney is now investigating it. Mr. Obama does not appoint PA’s, they are operating, again on a local level. The PA will then take it to court and if found guilty, those that are involved will actually get sentenced, just like anybody else. Now, how many policemen got a fair trial in Egypt, were found guilty and are actually doing their time? What are we comparing exactly?

3.     The use of tear gas is a legitimate way of controlling riots. There are many guidelines to using tear gas and rubber bullets. Not throwing a tear bomb inside a closed truck with people locked in is one of them, by the way. And – unlike what anyone would like to think – the police in Ferguson used tear gas within the set guidelines. There were no fatalities in the confrontations between the police and the protestors. Now, how exactly does this compare to what happens in Egypt? How is 2’000+ dead people in 3 years comparable to zero fatalities? Someone said, let’s see what they do if they have Molotov cocktails. Well, the Greek police (which is not the US police but close enough) had their protestors throwing Molotov cocktails and all other sort of crap at them and guess what? There were still no fatalities. I wonder why. 

4.  However, even with all those “guidelines”, “elected” officials and “independent” judiciary, there are still mistakes that happen and it would be na├»ve to think that there will never be mistakes, bad intentions, police corruption or some brutality every now and then. But for that, there is “freedom of speech” and there is not a single newspaper or TV channel in the US that has not criticized the actions of the police, putting pressure on everyone involved in that structure to take actions and to fix whatever went wrong. How is that compared to our carefully orchestrated media? Where is our right to criticize and demand change? Who, in the past 3 years, was allowed to come out and say that we need to change the way we do things? As a matter of fact we do the exact opposite. For instance our government banned a soap opera because one of the characters was a corrupt cop. So much for self criticism. 

But, for argument sake, let’s assume that everything I said above was irrelevant and you still are convinced that the “US Police” is inhumane and does not respect the rights of its citizens. Why is that an excuse for our police to act “the same”? Are we saying that if they’re doing it, then we too can do it? Is that really what we strive to achieve? To be as bad as they are? Why do we not want a “better” police for Egypt?  Why are we justifying our mistakes instead of fixing them? Do we really feel that this is the police we want for our families? Do you feel safe driving on Egyptian roads? Do you feel safe for your kids to drive home at night? Are you confident that they will not be harassed by some arrogant police officer? Yes, we think we have all the contacts to get “our” kids out, but don’t you know that in the past 20 years most of those young policemen are sons of senior generals? Which means they have as many “connections” as you do? Why are we settling and compromising? Why do we not see that a policeman can be both firm and respectful of citizens? Why are “security” and “respect” mutually exclusive? Why are we willing to grant corrupt policemen pardon? Why are we not asking for justice with those who fail to protect us and our families? Why are we not more demanding? Shouldn't we be the ones putting pressure on everyone to do more?

This is the official end of the post 
what comes next is for students who want to refine their skills

For the apologists
For those who are going to say that we need to overlook human rights because we’re in a war with terrorism and we just need to get past this bottleneck:
For 30 years that is exactly what Mubarak did and in the last 10-15 years (the Adly era) the police had a blank check to do whatever they pleased with no repercussions .Where did that take us? Isn’t this the time where the Muslim Brotherhood became the strongest? Who coordinated with the MB the 2005 elections, wasn’t it that same police? Why are we insisting on doing the same exact mistakes over and over again?

For the conspiracy theorists
For those who are claiming that Hamas and God knows who else were behind the killing:

  • What are you telling me here? Are you saying that the police did not kill anyone during the protests? Are you really saying that? Are you telling me that there is no torture in police stations? That the police are doing a fantastic job?

  • Even if we accept that Hamas did it. If Adly’s police and his State Security, who had all the "liberties" they needed, could not spot the “terrorists” that came through the borders and could not stop this mega-plan, why are you defending their ways? Why are you calling for the return of their practices? Isn’t it obvious that this way doesn’t really work?


  1. Spot on Karim. Greetings from your distant cousin in California.