The International Reporting (and Life) Adventures of Vivian Salama

Egyptian blogger who posted images of police brutality booted from YouTube

Posted by vmsalama on November 30, 2007

Wow. This is really too bad — a blow to all cyber-dissidents around the world.

Check out my article on the political implications of Arab and Iranian bloggers: Arab and Iranian Bloggers: Emerging Threat to the Official Line

CAIRO (CNN) — An award-winning Egyptian human rights activist who posts
videos about police abuse  said he had his account suspended by YouTube because of complaints that the videos contain “inappropriate material.”




Wael Abbas, an anti-torture watchdog, told CNN on Wednesday that there have been 100 videos posted on his account containing images of torture, police brutality, demonstrations, strikes, sit-ins, and election irregularities. Material he has posted is no longer available on the popular video-sharing Web site.
      He said YouTube sent him an e-mail saying they suspended it. “They didn’t ask me to remove it. They said ‘your account isn’t working,’ ” he said.

      When asked about the account, a YouTube spokesperson said, “We take these matters very seriously, but we don’t comment on individual videos.”

      YouTube regulations state that “graphic or gratuitous violence” is not allowed and violations of the terms of use could result in the ending of an account and deleting all of the videos in it.

      “YouTube prohibits inappropriate content on the site, and our community effectively polices the site for inappropriate material,” the spokesperson said. “Users can flag content that they feel is inappropriate and once it is flagged it is reviewed by our staff and removed from the system within minutes if it violates our Community Guidelines or Terms of Use. We also disable the accounts of repeat offenders.”

      Abbas admitted that some of the videos were in fact “graphic,” but said it is important to convey strong imagery to underscore the issue of abuse and make an “impact on public opinion.” 

      He likened the importance of such graphic imagery to the photos and videos that emerged in 2004 and illustrated the brutality in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq, stoking international outrage.

      “We managed to direct the attention of the people to something that was taboo, something that was never discussed before — which is police brutality and torture inside police stations,” said Abbas, referring to his videos.

      The 33-year-old Abbas also operates one of Egypt’s best known blogs, misrdigital.com, and the popularity exists in large part to the frequent postings about police abuse. 

      He has gotten international notice recently, with the International Center for Journalists recently awarding a Knight International Journalism Award to Abbas for his work.
 In one prominent incident, Abbas posted a video on his blog of a police officer binding and sodomizing an Egyptian bus driver who intervened in a dispute between police and another driver. 
      The video was one of the factors that led the conviction of two police officers, who were sentenced to three years each in connection with the incident. “It’s the first time Egyptian people saw something like that,” Abbas said, referring to beatings and torture. “It was a shock to the Egyptian people.”

      The blogger, who said he’s in a “state of shock” because he lost videos he’s uploaded for years, said he might resort to campaigning against YouTube. “We thought that YouTube was our ally,” Abbas said. “It helped show the truth in countries like Burma … With what they did now, it doesn’t seem like that anymore,” Abbas said.

      Abbas said he has also had a problem with Yahoo! because it shut down two
of his e-mail accounts, accusing him of being a spammer.


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