The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Booleess Day

I had wanted to write something funny and incisive about Police Day, the annual event of pageantry and appreciation for your local cops celebrated in Egypt. But the above-mentioned cold has prevented me from doing so, and I even missed my favorite part of Police Day, the Nile Squad river rescue demonstration. If you are so privileged as to have a room or be a member of the gym at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, it offers the best view.

Don't despair, though, Jack Shenker has written a nice-guide on how to celebrate Police Day and Bikya Masr has a collection of their articles on the performance of Egypt's finest.

I still haven't entirely confirmed this (partly due to my near-comatose state), but President Mubarak in his Police Day speech several days ago is said to have made several important statements (about fundamentalism, among other things, and allusions to the Iranian threat.) Most interesting though is that Police Day is now an official national holiday — i.e. a bank holiday as they say in the UK (or has this always been the case? I can't remember). Is this a promotion of the police to the same status as Armed Forces Day? Compensation for the humiliation suffered by the police at the hands of the army last March? A sign of a great leveling between coppers and soldiers? Is Minister of Interior and supercop Habib al-Adly the next president? Hosni works in mysterious ways.

Anyway, all joking aside, whatever happens in Egypt over the next few years dealing with the declining quality of police work, rock-bottom trust for law enforcement and a routine practice of torture will be one of the most important challenges the country will face. Worth mulling over on this day.