If you are living in Egypt do not be surprised if a cop stops you in the street asking for your ID and starting to search you with his hands. It just happened tonight, 3 hours before I start writing this, I was in a taxi on my way to Hadayek El Kobba (a district in Cairo) and just in front of the Presidential Palace, a police patrol stopped the taxi and asked us to step out. The taxi driver obeyed instantly. As we stepped out, two low-rank officers came, one searching me and the other searching the taxi driver:
LRO: Your ID
I take out my wallet, get my ID out and show to him. He snatches it and looks at me and says
LRO: I am going to search you.
Then he started searching me, from 'neck' (as if I can hide some marijuana in my neck or something) to shoes. Then he started putting his hands in pockets, took out my mobile and told me: Hold this. Then in my other pocket, took out some money and my keys and said: Hold this too. Then he started to put his hands near my pants' back pockets. At this point I was fuming already.
Me: What are you doing?
LRO: Just a second.
Me: You are not putting your hands in my back pockets.
LRO: Are you hiding something in there?
Me: No and you are not doing this.
LRO: If No why don't you just resist searching?
Me: Look, you wanted to search me, you did it. You wanted to see my ID, and you did it. You put your hands in my pockets and taking out my own mobile, money and keys, and I let it go. And that is the end of it.
Another Low-rank officer comes.
LRO2: What's wrong?
Me: Nothing wrong, he has finished searching me and that's it.
LRO2: What do you do?
Me: University Teaching Assistant.
LRO2: Okay but this is our job...
Me: And you have done it and it is over.
LRO2: May I see your wallet.
LRO2: To search it.
Me: I can open it for you and let you see what's in there.
LRO2: Ok go ahead.
I take out my wallet and open it, he snatches it and starts searching every pocket in it quickly. I snatch it back and shout.
Me: What is your name?
Me: You will fucking know later. What is your name?
Here comes the Officer in charge of the patrol.
Officer: What's wrong?
Me: What is wrong is that you have two people who want to search my back pockets and snatch my own wallet to search it.
Officer: OK this is our job. Let me see your ID.
Me: Oh really, show me your ID and badge too. (Our police officers consider this very insulting)
Me: Your ID and badge. This is my right, the same way you are right to do your job.
He takes out his ID and holds it away. I can barely see anything. So I ask him to make it clear.
Officer: Are you kidding me? Show me your ID.
Me: Make it clear. (He puts it 1 inch nearer and takes it back quickly, and I give him my ID)
Officer: What do you do?
Me: University Teaching Assistant
Officer: Which University?
Officer: This is our job and this is what we do whether the people like it or not. We once had a diplomat's son who had weed in his pockets.
Me: I let you search me well, and when this one (pointing at the other officer) asked to see my wallet, I took it out for him respecting what you call your job. But to snatch it out and to search it pocket by pocket is so disrespectful and intruding any privacy I should cherish. Do your job without disrespecting people.
Officer: We do our job whether THE PEOPLE like it or not. Hop in and leave.
Me: Enjoy it!
As I get back into the taxi, the driver was shivering in fear.
Driver: You are so brave to do that, they could have arrested you.
I looked at him in silence and turned my head away. I wish I could smash it through the windshield.
Labels: cairo, personal, police, shit