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.

 

Moscow seeks to boost its influence in Kurdistan through oil

Tillerson does not expect Gulf crisis to be resolved soon

35 Egyptian police killed in Islamist ambush

How Raqa recapture affects complex Syrian war

Ancient Turkish town set to vanish forever under floodwaters

Somalia attack death toll rises to 358

Long road ahead for families of jailed Morocco protesters

Israel hits Syrian artillery after Golan fire

Germany advances Israel submarine deal after corruption holdup

Bashir Gemayel's killer convicted, 35 years later

SDF hails 'historic victory' against IS in Raqa

Hamas delegation visits Iran

Turkish court orders release of teacher on hunger strike

Yemen rebel youth minister urges children to join war

Iran's Guards show no intention of curbing activities in Mideast

EU will cut some money for Turkey as ties sour

Iraqi workers return to oil fields retaken from Kurds

Kurdish disarray shows resurgence of Iraq's army

Iranian military chief visits frontline near Syria's Aleppo

Iraq army takes last Kurd-held area of Kirkuk province

Turkey issues arrest warrants for 110 people over Gulen links

Lebanon approves first budget since 2005

Hamas calls US unity comments ‘blatant interference’

OPEC chief pleased with oil market rebalancing

Turkish police detain leading civil society figure

G7, tech giants meet to tackle terror online

Iraq’s Kurdish regional government open to Baghdad talks

Tensions flare among Yemen's rebels

Baghdad court issues arrest warrant for Iraqi Kurd VP

Erdogan, Nigerian counterpart to ramp up cooperation

Russian medics operate on Yemen's Saleh despite embargo

Baghdad condemns oil deal between Russia’s Rosneft, Kurds

Power shifts again in Iraq's multi-ethnic Kirkuk

Syrian general accused of journalist deaths killed in Deir Ezzor

Raqa liberators ready for civilian handover, on to next battle

Revolutionary Guards say Iranian missile program will continue

Erdogan calls on three major mayors to resign

ICC investigating several war crimes in Mali

Erdogan says may shut Iraqi border at any moment

Tunisian couple jailed for 'public indecency' over car kiss

Next round of Syria talks at end October

Gazans hope Palestinian reconciliation ends their woes

PSG's Khelaifi to be quizzed in Swiss World Cup probe

UN urges de-escalation in Iraq

Haley: Iran must be judged in totality of its aggressive behaviour