suggests following articles



by Samir Raafat
for theCairo Times,
on April 17, 1997

One night last January

A fashionable neighborhood, 04:00 or thereabouts. Black clad, wearing ski-masks, and toting short-barreled machine guns, a special State Security squad awakens a household and arrests a teenage son. The arresting team impounds posters, CDs and tapes ranging from Guns 'n' Roses to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. They also confiscate a black T-shirt with a Bugs Bunny design. A well-mannered arresting officer informs alarmed parents that their youngster is needed for questioning downtown. The state-provided transport consists of an armored police van with several other youngsters already crouching inside. The same bleak scenario is replicated with choreographed precision in five dozen homes across Cairo, most of them in similarly well-to-do neighborhoods.

Mug shots and fingerprints are taken, and the arrestees are subject to routine questioning. In all around 70 suspects are corralled in holding rooms and corridors. All are blindfolded and ordered to stand against wall for eight hours. Female suspects are segregated in a separate location.

The youngsters are questioned separately by the assistant district attorney who informs them, in turn, that they stand accused of blasphemy and profanity, as well as insurrection against the state. No explanation of the charges is given.

Groups of youthful suspects huddle together in holding rooms exchanging details. All but one are in the 16-to- twentysomething age group. Except for a handful from Alexandria, what they have in common is that they all

attended heavy metal parties. By deduction, the youngsters conclude that the arrests were made on the basis of attendance at one such party that had taken place last December at which car plate numbers must have been

noted. As it turned out, some of those apprehended had nothing to do with these parties. For their misfortune, they had lent their car to a heavy metal sibling. Also arrested was a fortysomething metal-worker who, it appeared, had drifted into the December party on that particular night.

More specific questioning, including questions such as "Do you skin cats?"; "Do you spit on graves?" and "Do you hold pagan sacrifices?" Transport to and from the court house is in a highly guarded convoy of the kind usually reserved for condemned fundamentalists.

The accused satanists are transported to Tora Prison south of Cairo. Check-in is followed by a head shave and a change of clothes. The randomly distributed attire consists of flimsy tops and baggy prison pants several sizes too large or too short. After a spell in a holding room, nicknamed "Al Talaga" (the Freezer), the new prisoners are redistributed into overcrowded communal cells.

Inedible rations are served in large metal containers that are identical to those supplied for toilet functions--which have to be performed publically as there is no partitioning or privacy. The blankets supplied by parents provide inadequate protection against the cold. News trickling in via parents and guards alarms the youngsters who learn they are being charged with devil worshipping and that capital punishment has been sanctioned by some of the higher religious authorities.

A riot had broken out the previous day in an adjacent block. The prison authorities consider the situation critical and are concerned that the violence may spread. The accused satanists are moved. Chained and crammed into one truck, they are taken by special high security convoy to Al Marg, a penitentiary north of Cairo. At Al Marg, there is another strip-search and a new issue of clothes. This time they are put three inamtes to a cell. Sanitary facilities consist of a dark hole in the floor of each cell.

There are regular blindfolded trips to a room in which questioning takes place. Parents are finally allowed one visit to their imprisoned off-spring.

A trip to the courthouse. Bail is posted and there's light at the end of the tunnel.

The public prosecutor drops all charges of devil worshipping for lack of corroborating evidence. What had been a hot story for the duration of a three-week investigation is swept under the carpet and described as a "misunderstanding."

Reader Comments
Subject: Re: 21 Days in the life of an alleged devil worshipper
Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2001 13:15:39 KST
From: Thomas Giammarco

I am a professor at Woosuk University in South Korea and I am currently gathering newspaper articles from around the globe to use in a text for students studying English. I came across your article, "21 Days in the life of a devil worshipper" (April 17, 1997) in a back-issue of the Cairo Times. I found the article to be extremely well written and the topic of the abuse of power by police is one which my students can readily identify with. Korea had many similar such cases involving suspected communists in the 1980's. I would to request permission to reproduce the bulk of your article in my text. Naturally, you and the Cairo Times will receive full credit for the story. Thank you for considering my request. Sincerely,

articles posted on were published in the following books by Samir W Raafat: THE EGYPTIAN BOURSE, Zeitouna, Cairo -- CAIRO THE GLORY YEARS, Harpocrates, Alexandria -- HISTORY & SOCIETY IN A CAIRO SUBURB; MAADI 1904-1962, Palm Press, Cairo -- PRIVILEGED FOR THREE CENTURIES, printed digitally and bound by Elias Printing, Egypt

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