News / Middle East

Former Egyptian Police Officer Directs Protesters from Afar

Omar Afifi Suleiman directs Egyptian demonstrations from his high tech command center near Washington, D.C.
Omar Afifi Suleiman directs Egyptian demonstrations from his high tech command center near Washington, D.C.

Multimedia

For protesters in Tahrir Square, avoiding police arrest required a coordinated effort on the first day of demonstrations.....and it continues to. A man helping to instruct protesters how to do that is thousands of miles away in the United States, communicating through high tech.  The Egyptian Embassy in Washington did not return our phone calls seeking comment. But  he's a former Egyptian police officer and he says there's a price on his head. 

In a personal command center in a tiny apartment, 10 minutes from Washington, D.C., the revolution gets direction.

"God be with you.  You are the ones. We are representing nothing without you," Omar Afifi Suleiman tells a caller.

Suleiman is speaking to protesters in Egypt via Skype, Facebook, Twitter and cell phone.  Today, he hears from the Egyptian countryside, where 200 want to join the revolt.   

"Are our groups increasing in number," the caller asks.

"Of course they are,"  Suleiman responds.

Another man calls after being questioned by authorities.  

"The first thing they did was let us hear the sound of electric shock to intimidate us," the protester tells him.



Suleiman briefs activists on how to prevent confrontation.  After 20 years as an Egyptian police officer, he says he knows all about that.

He wrote a book instructing ordinary citizens how to avoid police abuse. The book was banned in Egypt and Suleiman says death threats forced him out of the country - to America where he says he's been waiting three years to start a revolution.

"Our demonstrations will be popular, spontaneous, and peaceful.   One hundred percent.  No violence.," he says.

On January 14, Suleiman's YouTube video directed thousands on where and how to begin a revolt. He says he joined three other groups helping to organize protestors.  It began 11 days later.

Suleiman says he taught protesters how to outsmart police by gathering in the side streets leading toTahrir Square.    

"I know the police and he can control for 500, 600, 700," he notes.  "But he can't control for 1,000 and 500.  It's very hard."

Suleiman says he wants what the protesters want:  President Mubarak's resignation and democracy now.

"Nobody can stop our revolution. Nobody," he insists.

But Egypt's Vice President Omar Suleiman -- no relation -- said the government will not tolerate prolonged protests in Tahrir Square, where some have set up tents.  He was quoted saying he does not want to deal with Egyptians using "police tools."

Under a new government, analysts say that same police department would have to adapt.  

"You have to change a whole police culture, you have to train them that slapping people around doesn’t work," says Fouad Ajami, a Mideast expert with Johns Hopkins University.  "That kicking people around doesn’t work”"

Omar Affifi Suleiman agrees and estimates one out of seven Egyptian police officers is corrupt and abusive.  He says only through retraining can the force establish credibility with the Egyptian public.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid