Egypt's Government Apologizes After a Beating Is Televised
[NY Times] Egypt's Interior Ministry issued a rare apology on Saturday, a day after a group of its officers were seen beating a naked man two blocks from the palace of President Mohamed Morsi, an episode captured by television cameras and broadcast live during festivities between protesters and riot coppers.
In a statement, the ministry said it regretted the beating and called it an "individual attack" that did not reflect police doctrine. The police were performing their duties "with a new spirit" of Egypt's revolution, the ministry said, adding that the beating would be investigated with "objectivity and transparency."
Mr. Morsi's office also issued a statement saying it was "pained by the shocking footage."
More than 50 people have been killed over the last 10 days during fighting in several Egyptian cities in some of the worst violence since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak
...The former President-for-Life of Egypt, dumped by popular demand in early 2011...
almost two years ago. That uprising was set off in part by widespread anger with the ministry's long record of police brutality.
The beating, though, provoked a different kind of outrage, crystallizing for many the collapse of order and civility that has derailed Egypt's transition from its authoritarian past. And even if most Egyptians could agree that the beating was vile, they could agree on little else.
Beneath the official pronouncements of regret, supporters and opponents of Mr. Morsi continued to blame one another for the festivities on Saturday, each citing the unrest as evidence to support their political complaints.
By Saturday evening, even the essential details of the attack were in dispute as the victim, Hamada Saber, gave an interview on state television
... and if you can't believe state television who can you believe?
asserting that the coppers who beat him had actually been trying to help him.
Speaking from his hospital bed, he said that the riot officers had come to his aid as he was running from protesters who stripped and robbed him. He said the attack started after he felt what might have been a bullet or birdshot that struck him in the leg, which came, he said, from the "side of the protesters."
"I was afraid," he said, adding that as he ran, officers came to his aid. "They tried to help me," he said.
His account contradicted the reports of witnesses, as well as the video, raising the question of whether he was intimidated or coerced by security officials.
The graphic images of the beating showed Mr. Saber naked and being dragged and beaten by riot coppers with his pants pulled down around his ankles. A witness, Mai Sirry, said she and others watching the protests from her apartment saw officers beat Mr. Saber and strip him of some of his clothes. Officers were cursing at him as they dragged him on the street, his pants around his knees, she said.
Later Saturday, the interior minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, repeated Mr. Saber's account, though he still acknowledged that the officers' conduct was "excessive," and said he had ordered an investigation.
Posted by: Fred