Sunday, December 10, 2006

There was this Truth

doing the rounds for a while that Cairo policemen have at one and the same time the highest lead levels and lowest sperm counts in the world. An occupational hazard. It was a tempting truth. It explained so much.

Cairo traffic is where we go to dig snot out of our noses until it’s time to honk. Once in a while we move our cars around like the pieces in an anarchic, and brutally slow, game of checkers. I have taken to sipping absinth and smoking a joint while I drive. It passes the time. It gives me insight.

Stands policeman there in an orange safety vest, making like a zoo-bound proto-human, up on its hind legs doing embarrassing things to its genitalia while the girls giggle and the guys look away. Once in a while it blows a whistle.

Interesting that Mohamed Sharaqawi knew he was in shit when he heard the policeman radioing ahead to keep the Garden City light clear. He had just been dragged into a car and the cops weren’t letting him see where they were taking him.

Then the policemen at the Kasr el Aini police station did something embarrassing to Mohamed’s genitals. It was, I’m sure, no big surprise to him: Egyptian policeman are getting to be known for touching men in embarrassing ways. Foreigners have been known to askfor it (and give a little tip), and Egyptians … well, I guess Mohamed was asking for it too—all that public “I want my rights” stuff. Might as well have held up a sign that said “sodomize me.” But it can hardly have been pleasant.

Which brings us to taxi-driving Emad, beaten, held for a week back in January and then sodomized with a broom handle. In the video he doesn’t seem to be having much fun either. Lots of screaming and trying to get away. And the policemen there like little boys with a frog.

But leave that aside a moment. Let’s think this through. Notice, again, the traffic angle. A taxi driver. Beaten to intimidate other drivers maybe? Or as punishment for a traffic infraction? A closer investigation might reveal that he was in the Garden City intersection that day back in May when they were transporting Mohamed, his face jammed into the crotch of some officer of the law, to the station.

On the other hand this could be something separate—a crackdown on changing lanes without shoulder checking or failure to stop at a red light; a traffic management initiative implemented by people with massive amounts of lead attacking their brains.

Or maybe this is a question that defies logical analysis, no matter what quantity of high grade weed or low-test gasoline you feed your grey matter. Maybe it’s just time to go down a police station with some friends—Bulaq al Dacrour would be a good place to start—and drag a few of these mofos out into the street and run them over.