First Published: 2010-06-25

 
ElBaradei leads Egypt anti-torture protest
 

Ex-IAEA chief carries on his ‘change’ campaign in Alexandria in protest against police brutality.

 

Middle East Online

By Mona Salem - ALEXANDRIA

Powerful comeback for ElBaradei



Mohamed ElBaradei, the ex-atomic watchdog chief turned Egyptian dissident, led thousands of protesters in the northern city of Alexandria on Friday demanding an end to police brutality.

ElBaradei emerged from the Muslim weekly prayers in Alexandria's Sidi Gaber district to rapturous applause from a 4,000-strong crowd chanting "Change" and holding posters of 28-year-old Khaled Said who was allegedly killed this month at the hands of police officers.

ElBaradei, who had earlier visited Said's family to offer condolences, struggled to move through the crowd as protesters rushed to reach him, some kissing his hands, others patting him on the back.

Hundreds of police and anti-riot forces surrounded the protesters, who represented several political groups including the pro-reform April 6 youth movement and the banned opposition Muslim Brotherhood, as well as prominent activists and opposition politicians and ordinary citizens.

Protesters held up signs reading: "Our condolences to Freedom" and "Long Live Egypt". Others chanted "Down with (President Hosni) Mubarak".

They demanded the ouster of Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, who they say has failed to bring to justice those accused of torture.

According to witnesses, Said was killed on June 6 when plainclothes policemen dragged him out of an Internet cafe and beat him to death on a busy Alexandria street.

Egypt's interior ministry said he had died from asphyxiation after swallowing a bag of narcotics when approached by officers.

But rights groups have rejected the official account, and Said has since become a symbol for rights activists against police brutality, for which Egypt has been criticised at home and abroad.

Disturbing images of Said's battered and bruised face have appeared on social networking websites, sparking public outcry and condemnation from local and international rights groups.

Opposition members and political activists have argued that the incident is proof that Egypt's decades-old emergency law, which was renewed last month for a further two years, has created a legacy of police impunity.

Several protests have broken out around the country since Said's death, demanding his alleged torturers be brought to justice.

The Alexandria demonstration also marked a powerful comeback for ElBaradei following weeks away from the public eye, amid criticism that his reform campaign had run out of steam.

Rarely are such numbers out in force in Egypt, where police does not tolerate large political gatherings.

"There were thousands of people, and thousands more in the streets near the mosque," said Hassan Nafaa, the coordinator for the National Association for Change set up by ElBaradei to call for political reforms.

"If the protesters had been allowed to move even 500 metres (yards), thousands more would have joined," he said after the protest.

"We gathered today to mourn the loss of Khaled Said and to mourn the fate of this nation," he said.

ElBaradei, 68, has emerged as Egypt's most high-profile reform champion since his retirement from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency last year.

 

Rouhani seizes opportunity to get closer to Qatar

New crown prince widely welcomed in Saudi Arabia

Banned Bahraini newspaper fires staff

Iraq forces battle deep into devastated Old Mosul

Prime time for Ramadan on Gulf fashion calendar

Mali activists call for referendum to be abandoned

Iraqi forces control two thirds of Mosul Old City

Assad leads Eid prayers in Syria’s Hama

Lone-wolf attacks raise concern about new trend in terror

Erdogan slams Saudi demands of Qatar as illegal

Sudan making 'positive' steps on meeting US sanctions terms

Mecca suicide bombing injures six

Gulf crisis heats up as Qatar receives list of demands

Suicide attacks kill at least three people in Mosul

Civilians killed in Iraq suicide bomb attacks

UN warns Yemen cholera outbreak could infect 300,000 by September

Putin launches deep-water phase of TurkStream pipeline

Berlin warns Ankara against meddling in religious affairs

Asian states downplay 'Russia proposal' to send troops to Syria

Iran’s Salehi urges West to save historic nuclear deal

Iran, allies mark Jerusalem Day with rallies

US-led Syria strikes kill 472 civilians in one month

Morocco dismantles 'IS-linked cell plotting tourist attacks'

France sets out tough new anti-terror law

Russia warships, submarine strike IS targets in Syria

Trump-Saudi ties help pave way for new Saudi crown prince

Makeshift clinic saves lives near Syria’s Raqa

Egyptian fuel helps restart Gaza power station

Rights groups say Morocco protest leader 'severely beaten' during arrest

5 killed in Mogadishu car bomb attack

UN experts urge Egypt to halt executions after 'flawed trials'

Qatar emir congratulates newly-appointed Saudi crown prince

Kushner hails 'productive' Palestine-Israel talks

Macron says removing Assad no longer priority in Syria

Turkey sends first aid ship to isolated ally Qatar

Iraq PM says IS admitting defeat in Mosul

Egypt delivers fuel to ease Gaza electricity shortage

Saudi Arabia named after ruling dynasty

Turkey detains catering boss after army food poisoning

Israel says will unleash 'unimaginable power' in future Lebanon war

Brussels nail bomber identified as Moroccan

Saudi stock market bullish on new heir

Lebanon's Salame to be new UN Libya envoy

New Saudi heir is king's agent of change

Turkish President accused of influencing courts