Sunday, June 8, 2008

Speaking of the Devil

By Ian Lee


One topic we have touched on in this course is the police service. Whether the topic was political, religious, or even scientific the security services have been part of each conversation. Overtly or covertly they are all around us.

Yesterday, we met them as we were walking to meet a contact for a story (if you happen to be reading this, the story has nothing to do with you.) Anyways, as we were walking to a café to eat and talk to our contact, a man in plain clothes approached us asking for his ID. Our contact presented the ID and was taken to the police commander a few meters away. We followed.

The commander was an average-height rotund man suffering from alopecia. An entourage of blue-eyed thugs ranging from late teens to late twenties surrounded us. I knew the best thing to do is act like a green American. Our contact was presented to this man. They spoke in rapid fire Arabic for a few minutes before he turned to me and asked, “Where are you from?”

“America,” I pronounced knowing that that carries a little sway.

“How do you know this man?”

“We met him through a friend.”

He turns back to our contact and shoots off in the Egyptian dialect. After a few more minutes he turns back to me.

“What does this man do?”

I continued by telling him that our contact works for an agency that builds solar water heaters. The man didn’t seem to be budging, in fact he seemed ready to order his thugs to grab our contact and take him away. The man spoke to our contact and to one of his men, and just as I thought I would be writing Amnesty International, he handed back his ID and told us to leave, which we did with haste.

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