Monday, March 23, 2009

Video of army cadets vandalizing police station posted online

By Abdel-Rahman Hussein - Daily News - First Published: March 12, 2009

A group of students attacked a police station Sunday night throwing stones and vandalizing allegedly in retaliation for the mistreatment of a fellow student, according to a video posted on the internet.

The students are believed to be army cadets studying at the Military Academy

The video shows a police station in 15 May in Helwan on the outskirts of Cairo being trashed by the cadets in plainclothes. A car allegedly belonging to the police commissioner was also being vandalized.

The videos of the incident were posted on the MisrDigital website, a blog authored by Wael Abbas. They were made available to Abbas by an eyewitness.

In the videos, cadets are heard chanting “Harbeya, Harbeya” (the name of their military academy).They also sprayed the name of their academy on the walls of the police station.

On the video, policemen at the station fired gunshots in the air to ward off the cadets. A police truck was also vandalized and a police motorcycle was set on fire.

The story behind the incident, according to the blog, is that one of the cadets and his father was mistreated inside the police station, and that his colleagues retaliated by attacking the station.

Journalist and blogger of 3arabawy (arabist.net/arabawy) Hossam El-Hamalawy, told Daily News Egypt that such an event, if true, was a “clear sign of the breakdown of order in the country.”

Though he didn’t personally witness the event, El-Hamalawy said, “The state should investigate these videos as the [perpetrators] made it clear they were cadets.”

“Thuggery is the order of the day … the law has become meaningless,” he added.

The BBC reported that newspaper editors have been given “clear orders” not to publish details of the incident because it involves the army, which remains off-limits even to the independent press.

Executive Editor of Al-Dostour Ibrahim Mansour told the BBC that the newspaper was banned from publishing the incident.

Mansour added that the incident reflected “the state of disintegration in Egypt. There are intense power struggles between institutions, with each one trying to demonstrate that it is the strongest.”

El-Hamalawy said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an order not to publish and that wouldn’t be a precedent. It’s silly that foreign news outlets can report news that local press cannot. It’s ridiculous.”