A harrowing day shows the resilience and tactics of Egypt's security state
"Our experience shows the sort of pattern of repression that exists," says Haddadi. Indeed. The state Mubarak presides over has come increasingly to rely on arbitrary detention, torture, and intimidation to control its opponents, from local human rights groups to labor organizers to Islamist activists from the Muslim Brotherhood. Haddadi, a French national who has since left the country, and his friends were about to get a taste of the tactics they have worked to expose.
He finally made it, with his colleagues, to Hisham Mubarak in central Cairo at about 12:30 pm on February 3. After about half an hour there, with reports of an increasingly dangerous situation out on the streets, they decided it was time to leave. Someone came up to the third-floor office and said that was a bad idea. "You can't go, the baltagea are outside and they're going to kill you," he said. A glance outside confirmed that the mob, whipped up by reports on state television that the democracy protests were the result of a foreign plot and operating with at least the tacit support of the police, were there.
'If you move, I'll shoot'
Soon the police, both military and from the Interior Ministry, were there too. They pushed their way into the office with a group of civilian thugs and began to zip-tie the hands of everyone present behind their backs. A military police officer put one foot on a chair and another on a desk as he exerted his authority over the room. "I have orders from the military ruler... if anyone moves, I'll shoot them."