Egyptian police ‘using rape as a weapon’ against dissident groups
Claim comes amid widespread anger at crackdown that has seen 16,000 arrested
Apr. 12 2014
Two male political dissidents claim they were raped in Egyptian police custody in separate assaults that campaigners suspect are indicative of a wider strategy as the brutal crackdown on opposition continues.
Plainclothes officers allegedly assaulted Omar el-Shouekh, 19, inside an east Cairo police station on 24 March, minutes after he was arrested following a student protest. In written testimony provided to the Observer by his lawyer, Shouekh also alleged that he was beaten and given electric shocks.
A second man, Fadi Samir, said he was sexually assaulted in similar fashion in a different police station on 8 January. Samir also alleged that throughout his subsequent 42-day detention, he was frequently beaten and at one point groped by a policeman while at a urinal. Like many detainees, Samir alleged that prosecutors interrogated him on police property rather than neutral territory – failing to maintain an adequate separation of powers between Egypt's judicial system and the police force.
Though their treatment is comparable, the two men come from radically different backgrounds, and this illustrates the breadth of dissent against the Egyptian government. According to government figures, at least 16,000 dissidents – mainly Islamists, but increasingly secular activists, too – have been arrested since the start of the crackdown on political opposition that began last July.
Some have been released, but thousands are still incarcerated, and many allege they are detained arbitrarily – with judges habitually renewing detentions en masse every 45 days, without reviewing specific evidence against individuals. There have also been countless allegations of torture by police.