The West backed three decades of Egyptian-government depravity, all in the name of “stability”.
But what did this mean for the people?
Here’s Sarah Carr, a freelance journalist and a senior researcher with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, writing about entering the Nasr City State Security Investigations (SSI) headquarters recently:
State Security Investigations combined fear and terror with the banality of Egyptian bureaucracy. I remember at protests the men with the little scraps of paper who wrote down chants and names and a myriad other details. Everywhere in the Nasr City building there was paper, both shredded and intact, thousands upon thousands of files, the diary of decades of suffering.
In one office a notice warned against smoking. Next to it was a picture of an unidentified man in police uniform. Another room had a poster of Mecca, and a prayer rug underneath a monitor. One desk had a handwritten index card underneath its glass surface detailing the arrangement for some sort of subscription payment.
The building was immaculately clean and luxurious, unlike the majority of other, underfunded, public institutions. The “Crisis Management” room in particular was particularly lavish, a huge circular desk next to a bank of computers. We went through the door next to this and suddenly found ourselves in a living room of Louis XV furniture and decorative trinkets.
State Security has kitsch tendencies, we discovered, as is clearly shown in a Youtube video showing former Minister of Interior Habib El-Adly’s Nasr City SSI headquarters suite which – in addition to containing his and hers bathrobes – was furnished with the same glitzy furniture and had on display a golden stallion statue. One can only wonder at what message Habib intended to send with the stallion and bathrobes combination.