Although this is a personal experience, it proves that the current regime is no different than the old.
It is not enough that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has good intentions. He himself once said that countries are not managed with good intentions.
The practices of security services have not changed. If the president knows this, it is a problem, and if he does not, it is an even bigger problem.
Hosni Mubarak left, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi came, then came Mohamed Morsi, then came Adly Mansour and then came Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, yet I still get stopped at the airport upon my arrival or departure. Every time, the lady at the passport control office picks up the phone and asks if my name is on the “wanted” list. Then she tells me it is ok for me to go.
Once while I was waiting, her colleague asked me when the country would really change. I told him when this lady stops doing this every time I am here. “Never,” she said.
One time, out of the many times I've been stopped, I asked the lady to spare me the agony because I was very hungry and needed to have a good meal, as it was a short trip where they only serve a sandwich or two. She laughed but did not give me back my passport until she checked my name on the phone.
The only time this did not happen was in February 2011, one week after Mubarak stepped down, perhaps because the police were in a mess at that time. “Long Live the Revolution,” I chanted to myself.
Normally, I take this stupid procedure lightly. But there was this one time that made me furious. It was in 2009 when I was going to Abu Dhabi with my friend Mohamed Sayed Saeed, who was very sick. The officer kept us waiting for too long. I told him the plane was about to take off. “We decide when the plane takes off,” he told me coldly.
I looked at my friend, who was exhausted and sitting in a chair. “This man is one of the greatest thinkers of the country. You cannot do this to him,” I told the officer, but he did not care.
Another time that made me furious was in December 2010 when I was coming back from Kuwait. They kept me waiting again for too long. “You open the VIP lounge for crooks and traitors, and leave us honorable people to suffer like this,” I told the officer. Then I shouted slogans against Mubarak and his son.
Once when returning back to Egypt from Manama, I was seated on the plane next to a man who was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. This was at the time of President Morsi. He asked me if I would give him a lift when we arrive. I told him that he would have to wait for me because they must check my name every time. He said this happens to him as well.
But when we arrived, he passed through passport control in a second, while I was stopped yet again. “It looks like they have lifted my name from the list,” he told me. I was not surprised, for he was from the Brotherhood. As for me, they told me that my name is similar to that of a wanted person, and that it has been on the list since the time of Mubarak.
The police do not care if you are an honorable person or not. You are their enemy as long as you oppose them. I believe this is why I get stopped every time I go to the airport. I simply do not see anyone of those who have come to power in Egypt that deserves my endurance or aspiration. They are all the same with different faces.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm