My thesis is on the January 25 revolution in Egypt and I’ve been doing interviews with people to try and understand why they decided to protest. So far my interviews have been with upper/middle-class young men, and they have all mentioned the murder of Khaled Said as a major reason, if not *the* major reason.
Multiple witnesses testified that Saeed was beaten to death by the police, who reportedly hit him and smashed him against objects as he was led outside to their police car.
“They dragged him to the adjacent building and banged his head against an iron door, the steps of the staircase and walls of the building…Two doctors happened to be there and tried in vain to revive him but (the police) continued beating him…They continued to beat him even when he was dead.”
The police reported that Saeed suffocated in an attempt to swallow a packet of hashish, a claim supported by two autopsy reports made by Forensic Authorities. The police further stated that Saeed was “wanted for theft and weapons possession and that he resisted arrest.” (Source here.)
Many Egyptians I’ve spoken to do not believe that Khaled Said died because he swallowed drugs. They believe he was brutally beaten to death by the police.
Police brutality in Egypt was extremely common before the revolution. But I think the Khaled Said case made it clear that the police could literally kill anyone. He was middle class, educated, and not very politically active. The group on Facebook, We are all Khaled Said, says a lot: Egyptians suddenly felt that it could have been them.
January 25 was Police Day. There is no doubt that police brutality was one of the major reasons behind the revolution. However it continues today, and in many cases has been replaced by, military torture. It seems like torture is so widespread within the police/military that nothing short of a full-scale purge will solve the issue. But with more than 3 million in the police force, that seems completely unlikely.
RIP Khaled. Your death was one of the sparks of Jan 25.