Remembering Khaled Said’s Death: One Year Later, A Different Egypt
Where were you June 6, 2010?
I was in the Sinai with a group of ten Miami students, my wife, daughter and son. I didn’t hear about the young man dragged from a cybercafe and beaten to death by police until we returned to Cairo three days later. I didn’t know it, but it was a key event in modern Egyptian history, and a turning point in Egyptian revolutionary activities.
On June 6, 2011, hundreds of Egyptians remembered Khaled Said, and reflected on what his death led to, what it accomplished, and what has not yet been accomplished.
While there are may victims of the Mubarak regime, including torture survivors able and willing to tell their stories, Khaled Said is the one who became a martyr, that is, a symbol whose meaning is generated in part by the nature of his death. Said’s story became significant for many reasons:
First, he became a symbol for the emergency laws, and what they meant: that any Egyptian could, for any reason, be taken by police and tortured or killed without fear of reprisal or investigation by the state.
Second, the propaganda campaign to recast the mild-mannered businessman as a drug addict and possible pusher who choked to death on his own drugs, highlighted the complicity of state media in the regime’s callous and brutal exertions of force.
Third, the circulation of images of Khaled Said’s disfigured body, and the narrative of his death, to circulate so widely within and outside of Egypt that they could actually produce sufficient pressure to have the two policemen investigated and tried, served as an early lesson in the kinds of media uses protesters would subsequently employ in the uprising.
Finally, the Facebook page “Kullana Khaled Said” and its English counterpart “We Are All Khaled Said” demonstrated the capacity of such social media to quickly move beyond one event to become part–and contribute to the creation of–a network of the discontented.
Wael Qandil, managing editor of the privately owned Al-Shorouk daily newspaper, wrote:
Hosni Mubarak and Habib al-Adly are gone, the state of informants has fallen…, but Khaled Saeed remains alive in the hearts of all honest Egyptians, with his fascinating smile and innocent features
You can read the Al-Masry Al-Youm story on the commemoration of Khalid Said’s death here.
You can read a Reuter story about the commemoration of Khalid Said’s death here.
And you can read a translation and redaction of Amr Ezzat’s editorial “Are We Still Khaled Said?” here.