According to The New York Times, a shocking video was broadcasted live on Friday of a man being stripped, dragged and beaten by police officers two blocks from the palace of President Mohamed Morsi during protests. Egypt’s Interior Ministry issued a rare apology the next day saying it “regretted the beating and called it an individual attack that did not reflect police doctrine.” They also said the police were performing their duties “with a new spirit” of Egypt’s revolution” and that they would investigate the incident with “objectivity and transparency.” Morsi stated he was “pained by the shocking footage.”
This is a huge breakthrough in Egypt considering the ministry has a history of denying allegations of abuse and brutality which has led to widespread anger from the public and contributed to the uprising two years ago. This breakthrough is a result of Arab Media – because the technology to tape, broadcast, and access the footage was available. Without proof, the ministry would have continued to deny allegations. The issued apology is a small step in the right direction for Egyptian Government.
However, a bizarre turn in the story took place when State media reported the man who was beaten in the video “denying the events that witnesses and everyone watching on television had seen. He was quoted saying that the police had actually been trying to save him from protesters who had stripped him of his clothes. He also assured prosecutors that the police did not beat him, according to the state newspaper, Al Ahram.” Then during an interview on an Egyptian satellite television station, a woman who was said to be the man’s wife said “her husband had suffered only minor injuries and that government officials and the police were “standing with me, thank God.” After the interview, the news anchor asserted that she was being prompted by the police to say her husband was unharmed.”
This story shows how satellite television in the Arab World can be used to expose government wrong doing and demand justice. It also shows, contrastingly, how the same tool can be manipulated by the government. The horrifying video is extremely hard to watch and is undoubtably police brutality. The fact that anyone can say it was not is absolutely ridiculous. According to the New York Times, more than 50 people have been killed over the last 10 days during the protests. In the midst of anti-government protesters’ outrage, the footage has “provoked a different kind of outrage, crystallizing for many the collapse of order and civility that has derailed Egypt’s transition from its authoritarian past.”
*WARNING: Be advised the video is disturbing to watch