Egyptian Police Take the Gloves Off

Egyptian security forces have arrested as many as 1,000 people over nationwide anti-government protests. What's it like to be in Egyptian police custody? A Guardian reporter recorded his arrest: "We ran a gauntlet of officers beating us with sticks."

Egyptian police are notoriously violent, and the daily humiliation and intimidation of the Egyptian people at their hands is exactly what sparked the last three days of protests there. The national "Day of Anger" was held on Tuesday — Police Day in Egypt — and was inspired by the beating death of 28-year-old Khaled Said by two police officers last summer. Early on during the demonstrations security forces seemed to be restraining themselves, but by afternoon the water cannons, tear gas and batons were brought out in full force. Early on Wednesday the Guardian's Cairo correspondent, Jack Shenker, was arrested with a group of protestors, among them the son of prominent opposition figure Ayman Nour. The detainees underwent a series of beatings and were driven off in a police truck to the outskirts of Cairo.

The men were burly and wore leather jackets — up close I could see they were amin dowla, plain-clothes officers from Egypt's notorious state security service. All attempts I made to tell them in Arabic and English that I was an international journalist were met with more punches and slaps; around me I could make out other isolated protesters also being hauled along, receiving the same treatment.

We were being dragged towards a security building on the edge of the square, two streets away from my apartment, and as I approached the doorway of the building other security officers took flying kicks and punches at me. I spotted a high-ranking uniformed officer and shouted at him that I was a British journalist. He responded by walking over and punching me twice, saying in Arabic, "Fuck you and fuck Britain".

Outside of the city, detainees fought with police who had opened the paddywagon door and made a run for it. The Guardian has Shenker's audio recording of the ordeal from inside the truck. It's well worth listening to, and offers a good look at the harsh treatment of Egyptians by security forces.

[Mohamed Abdul Quddus of the Civil Liberties Committee and the Press Syndicate Council being arrested yesterday. Image via AP]