Facial hair and a weapon

Rana Allam
7 Min Read
Rana Allam
Rana Allam
Rana Allam

A silent old man, who looks as though he jumped out of a history book wearing a galabeya and a big traditional cover over his head and shoulders, roams Tahrir Square. Since the early days of the revolution and until now, the elderly man has witnessed how our revolution twisted and turned, how the singing turned to sobs. He saw how different protesters look and feel, while he remained the same silent wise old man, studying his surroundings with watchful eyes.

This man was detained.

Now we can expect a statement telling us that the brave men of the Ministry of Interior finally made their breakthrough in uncovering the mastermind behind all the violence. The villain has finally been captured. All will be well now that the 80+ year-old silent Egyptian is thrown in some inhumane cell.

Awesome bravery. Chapeau you guys!

I hope they didn’t throw him in the same facility where they keep the 400+ children they detained over the past couple of months. I do believe they are smart enough to separate them, lest they form an armed militia that can easily destroy this country. Such a group of people could turn peaceful Egypt to a war zone, imagine an old man and a bunch of kids in one cell. Scary, isn’t it?

The “men” of the Interior have also shown the Egyptian public a matching display of chivalry, when they send their thugs to sexually assault women. And with the aid of the Muslim Brotherhood squads, they are targetting young activists, kidnapping them and shooting them in the head, then throwing them out on the streets or in the morgue (if they were so kind).

Unparalleled bravery in keeping the peace in the country. And this is why they are rewarded all the time. Their salaries increased several times during the past two years, they have new ninja outfits, new war zone vehicles, and they are waiting for their teargas shipment to arrive so they can use it in abundance on Egyptians.

They are also now allowed to grow Islamist beards. An Islamist legal militia is on the rise.

How is it acceptable to have such extreme right-wing ultra-conservative men on a police force of a country in transition to democracy? Islamists by default believe that they must right the wrongs; they believe that it is their responsibility to make the people follow their sheikh’s commands. We have been fighting the rise of Islamist inquisition squads, but how can we fight that when they are members of the law enforcement institution?

A beard and a police uniform! Religious righteousness will have authority and weapons from now on. Will this bearded policeman uphold the country’s laws or his sheikh’s laws? How will such a man deal with women for example? Will he arrest me for not wearing the veil? Will he arrest a Copt for being a Copt? Will he arrest a boy and a girl for walking together on the Corniche? Can you imagine the level of harassment we will face when these people are back to “enforce the law” on Egyptian streets?

It would be very naïve to believe that they will not discriminate between us and their fellow beards and niqabs. Their fight for something as trivial as growing a beard says a lot. At least it tells us how hard they hold on to Wahabi thinking, which in turn tells us how biased they will be in favour of their own kind. In a case where, for example, a non-veiled woman or a Copt stands against a Salafi, who will this policeman side with? The law or his fellow beard?

Security apparatuses should have no bias, no affiliation, but this is no longer the case in Egypt. With some military personnel defending the Muslim Brotherhood on their personal social network pages, and some police officers growing beards, how can they unite in defending the people at large, how can they uphold the law regardless of personal biases? We need to always remember that we are yet to have a full healthy democratic system; we are yet to have a working fair justice system. How we can make the transition to a democratic state with all this dogma in the law enforcement institution?

What chance do we have of creating a civil secular state? What chance do we have of surviving in this country when bearded policemen raise the Saudi flag in front of the presidential palace? Not only will the police force protect the president, as was the case during Mubarak, but some of them have now extended their authority to protect the Wahabi belief system. What a mess!

These people did not object to the systematic torture happening in their police stations, or the detentions of children, or the assault on women, or the humiliation of the elderly. They did not raise their voice for the protection of the weak as God clearly ordered in all the holy books, but they did raise it to get their beards. They protested, went on strikes, and had sit-ins to be allowed to grow some facial hair, but never to fight injustices.

This is what the law has boiled down to: facial hair and head covers!

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