Individual freedoms between state security and national security
Between 8 and 9 in the morning in 26/09/2013, I woke up, unusually my apartment was clean, I took a walk to enjoy the touching the clean ground. I found my dog (Plato) sleeping under the windy window, he didn’t standup, he just takes his head up and keep his eyes on me to see me whenever I move. With closed eyes I said: good morning Plato.
I moved with a mechanical way to the other room, and lie down on my sofa with a plate of fruits, I catch the remote control and open the TV on National Geographic, after a while I slept again and I woke-up on a call from one of my colleagues at work, and after he reassured on me, told me that an officer from the National security call him and ask him about my number and he give to him.
I didn’t believe my colleague, especially that he is famous among us with his joking and tricks.
I closed the call while he is insisting that the national security will call me, and with a confident smile I knew that there are no officer or anyone will call me, by the end of the call my colleague said “please reassured me after they call you” I answered, “Alright I’ll if they call”.
After a while I found the screen of phone telling me that the “27915400” number is calling me. A voice from the other said: “Mr. Mahmoud Farouk” I answered “Yes I am”, the voice said “This is Colonel: Amr from the national security”, at that moment I just knew that my colleague was serous in his talking.
Colonel: Amr said “I used to call you when the organization name is –Egyptian Union of Liberal Youth- and I knew that you change the organization name to Egyptian Center for public Policy Studies (ECPPS) and am calling you to ask about your activities and some information about the organization”
Between 2007-2009 I used to receive calls or even requisition to go to them from the National security -State Security at that time- in many of their offices (Gaber Ben Hayan – 6 of October – Warak) they used to ask me about our activities and the goal of the organization, also they used to call me when we make a reservation for training or conference in a hotel when they receive the information from the hotel, at that time they try many times to stop some of our activities but I refuse, and also they try many times to know through me information about participants and there ideas but I also refuse, and I used to tell them I’ll not say anything more then what we have on our website.
On one occasion, there was an international organization having a training for some Egyptian organizations, and the state security canceled there hotel reservation, and they didn’t find a place to hold the training, and I offer them to do the training in our office, and I remember that day the state security officer was very angry and he didn’t like giving them a place to do the training, and since that time they use to send undercover security persons to attend our activities after I refuse to give him any information about the training.
I said to the Colonel Amr about ECPPS activities: “Why you asking me? and you can find everything we do on our website.”
He said: “your organization (ECPPS) is contacting some ministries, and asking to cooperate with them in some activities exactly “the ministry of Petroleum and ministry of electricity“ and his work to ask about us and know the real of the organization that contacting the government.”
I answered: but we notify everyone and every institutions and ministry, who we are and what we do and why we contact them, so why you asking me “What we do and why we doing it?”
I said to Colonel Amr: I have no problem to answer any of your questions if you just answer two questions “which law that give you the power to call me and ask me for information about my work and my organization and why you want to know such information? ”
He didn’t answer with clear words: he just reiterated his previous sentence, and said, “Your organization is address some ministries and I am calling you to get to know about your organization”
I reiterated my question many times, and every time I repeat my question there was a long talk from me to explain my point of view, I told him that we meet with many ministries and we even meet with the ministry of interior and with the human rights section in the ministry of interior, and we meet with officers still working with the ministry and officers leave the ministry and people from the police academy, and all of this because we working on police reform.
Then he ask me: “Mr. Mahmoud is your organization registered” I answered: “No we established as Non-Profit Company”. I filet from his time that he threat me in this question
Then he said: “Mr. Mahmoud, are you married?” I answered: “No I am not”
He said: “when you marry and have a cute daughter and someone like me come to you to ask to marry her, are you going to ask about him?”
I said: “It depends ….. But in general when someone want to marry he go to the woman family and tell who is he and what he doing for living … and then they ask about him”
He said: “This is exactly what am doing, I am calling you to ask about you because your organization is talk and contacting the government”
I answer with my the first sentence and said: “but we inform every one who we are” and I told him once again “if you just tell me why you want this information and under which law he call me I’ll be very happy to answer your questions.”
In more then 17 minutes which is the time of the call, he keep repeating: what is the kind of your organization work?. Are you doing reports and research’s or what you do exactly?. Don’t worry we’re not going to arrest you?. Am just calling to cut the space and talk to you directly. and if you doing training or something like that he will not call you I am just calling you because your kind of work, and because you contact ministries.
And I keep repeating: I want to know under which law you call me and ask for this information, and why you want to know.
Sometimes during the call I told him: “We are a research based organization, and our goal is the legal and economic reform in Egypt, and we work with ministries and political parties and many others to talk with them about our research papers”
I knew when I was telling him that any information about me or about the organization that he is writing it, although all of this information can be found by one click on our website, but I knew it wasn’t about what the organization do.
It was about breeding to obey the security and sow fear and awe and self-contempt, and flimsy authority that makes you feel that they watching you every and anywhere.
By the end of the call, I think the call was not so happy for me and for Colonel: Amr as well, he didn’t found a welcome an hopefully cooperation, and I felt bitterness in my throat from a call that makes the man ask himself hundreds of questions about the personal, practical and the country future.
Colonel Amr closed the call while he telling me: “I’ll search under which law I should call you and then I’ll call you to tell you about it and ask my questions”
I don’t say that the ministry of interior and the National security or the State security or whatever they want to name it, want to get back to the old times, as I do believe that they never change for a moment.
They as they used to be, and nothing going to change them unless we keep pushing them and make a pressure on them and make them change work under the law and change the authoritarian laws that give them the rights to violate the personal freedoms.
This is my witness for what happened with me in 26/9/2013, and we will keep working on ECPPS and will write a statement and send it to everyone and to all our friends to stop the National security from interfering and violating the personal freedoms.