Anger against daily abuse and torture by the police was one of the elements that triggered the popular revolt in Egypt.
One case stood out: that of 28-year-old Khaled Mohammed Said, beaten to death by police on 6th June last year in an internet cafe in Alexandria.
His ‘crime’: he posted a video on the net showing policemen selling drugs. The killing prompted a series of protests.
Other young people had already been active. For three years the “6th April movement” has campaigned relentlessly for democracy and an end to Mubarak’s regime.
The group has adeptly used the internet, via its own website and networks such as Facebook and Twitter, to call for change.
Its members too have been arrested and tortured. Policy brutality in Egypt is not only well known, it is there for all to see online.
One journalist, Wael Abbas, has published on his blog videos filmed by the police as they openly abuse detainees.
“I want these practices to stop, I want the Egyptian police to stop treating the Egyptian people this way. Even if they are suspects of some crime of some sort, there is always the law,” he said.
Several police videos fell into the hands of the blogger. The brutality was common practice and was applied to all kinds of detainees, not only those suspected of terrorism.
The attitude of the officers suggests they have little to fear and are able to carry on with impunity.
Journalists have revealed that the abuse of those in custody has not stopped during the uprising, but continued during last week’s demonstrations.
Nicholas Kulish of the New York Times came across it first hand after he was arrested at a checkpoint and delivered to the secret police.
“We heard people being beaten, you could literally hear the sound of them being clubbed and then screaming whenever it happened,” he said.
The Egyptian authorities have vowed to study complaints about mistreatment of political prisoners.
However sincere that promise, the evidence suggests the police are hardly quaking in their boots.