08 February, 2009

"A mafia with a license"

Sarah Carr has an excellent post detailing the kidnapping of Philip Rizk on friday. Also read her report from the march itself, written before Philip was taken away. On the blog, she writes about the powerlessness of ordinary Egyptians confronted with what is basically a state-run maffia:

"This kidnapping occurred with the complicity of the police – the laughing general – so the police are out of the picture. The judicial system meanwhile has been entirely emasculated by what is a mafia given a legal licence to operate freely. They are above the law in the sense that they have trampled, spat and shat all over it, reducing it to the crumpled up betting forms which litter racetracks after bets gone wrong: yes in theory there is a remote chance that the law might protect you, but your odds depend on who you are, and where you're from, and who you know, and the mood of the state security officer holding you.

Like me, Philip is half-Egyptian, half-another nationality which carries some weight, and I truly hope that this both protects him while he's in the custody of this gang and ensures his release.But think for a moment of the Egyptians without another nationality and the protection is affords, without foreign friends. What a truly sorry state of affairs, Egyptians in state security custody who are turned into ghosts, the odds of their escaping this mafia intact - physically, mentally and in terms of their dignity – virtually impossible. Unreachable and lost."

I can only agree with this. It was really amazing to see so many of Philips teachers, friends, and even some AUC students who didn't know him personally to show up with short notice yesterday outside the prosecutors office to demand his release - facing, of course, a ridiculuosly massive security presence and the usual attempts of intimidation while doing so. But it also made me sad because I knew that this protest was tolerated only because it involved a large number of foreigners and AUC professors and students. Even as we do all we can to ensure Philip's safe release, we should at least give a moment of thought to the Egyptians that has been detained and imprisoned by the Egyptian state-mafia for political reasons, like the Mahalla scapegoats or the hundreds that were detained for protesting the Israeli assault on Gaza, sometimes being beaten unconscious in the process.

1 comment:

  1. Urgent - Phil's email account (gmail) may be compromised, have seen him 'online' on gmail, but doesn't respond to communication, and signs in and out. His family confirmed they don't have access to his gmail.