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

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid