Sunday, July 10, 2011

Egypt's cops at work

K and I were woken up abruptly last night at 1-30 a.m. by shouting in the street just underneath our window. At first we figured it was the usual weekend night party-goers returning home after one too many drinks from the club. When after a few minutes the noise still had not dissipated, we both began wondering what was going on.

K went outside to check on the situation and to tell the rowdy people to kindly 'stfu' as there were people trying to sleep. Initially, it appeared his request was heeded, as the shouting quietened down. Briefly.

Within two minutes it had erupted again, accompanied by loud banging and aggressive, gruff voices shouting out insults and threats. K went back outside to assess the situation, which had evidently escalated. One guy was outside shouting up and down that our building was harbouring a man who owes him 3,000 LE (505 U.S. $). Our bowab (doorman) Mohammed and the doorman of our neighbouring building Gomaa were preventing these men from accessing our building, who were threatening to break into the building and break down the door of the apartment that was "allegedly" holding the man. The situation escalated, as any similar situation would in Egypt, and what was initially two bowabs preventing 3 men from entering our building, ended up with no less than 15 guys downstairs.

One was carrying a long stick, with which he hit our bowab Mohammed. Fearing that this brawl would come into our building, K did the smart thing and phoned the police, then promptly phoned the building landlord (who up until that point had no idea what was happening outside of his building). The police showed up within 5 minutes (talk about rapid response!). While I was expecting the police to begin arresting people, instead they started getting the stories from the multitude of people outside. During this procession, our landlord showed up with a car full of men. These guys got out, stormed up to the crowd, and found out that our bowab had been attacked. This resulted in them jumping the guy with the stick, and at least three people kicking him and thumping him. I'm sure he ended up with a few broken ribs.

It's not until today that we got the truth of what happened. The police have interrogated everyone, and it turns out that these boys were only owed 75 LE (12 U.S. $), and had exaggerated the figure in an attempt to legitimize them breaking into our building to beat up some guy who DOES NOT EVEN LIVE HERE, and merely cleaned one of the apartments downstairs. He had allegedly showed up shortly before the "gang," and had hidden on our building's roof.

Needless to say, you can see in the video the crowd that ended up outside our building. Unfortunately I didn't get the fight on camera, what you see is the immediate aftermath and you can hear the guy crying out "get me my civil rights." (I'm not a video whizz, so although I could adjust the contrast of the video watching on Media Player, I don't know how to save those changes.)

I am shocked that firstly the police showed up as quickly as they did, and although didn't rapidly dissolve the situation, did end up getting the story straight and taking the thugs into custody. I am thankful that our neighbourhood have bowabs that are not afraid to stand up for people, which really made us feel secure in our choice of location to live.

Never a dull moment in Egypt!

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