All the torture that's fit to text

A new SMS service provides subscribers with up-to-date information on torture cases in Egypt.

BEIRUT, September 23, 2008 (MENASSAT) – Beep. Beep. The familiar sound of an incoming SMS and the screen lights up on the mobile phones of those subscribing to the channel ta3zeeb on the social networking and micro-blogging site Jaiku.

Translated as 'Torture' in English, recipients know with certainty that when a message from #tazeeb shows up on their screens, it's not a friend asking you to meet up for coffee.

"September 19. A citizen was tortured in Daqaleya because he refused to work as an informant for the police," reads a message posted on the streaming channel.

The SMS updates are an initiative by the Egyptian anti-torture website in an effort to raise awareness about the topic and provide people with the latest news on cases of police torture.

Visitors to the group's official website are presented with articles and photo and video documentation of Egyptian torture victims. They are also urged to call a hotline number if they have been exposed to torture or know of anyone who has been a victim of torture in Egypt.

Rights group say torture is widespread in Egypt and a common practice in the country's police stations and state security facilities. In a November 2007 report, Amnesty International (AI) referred to Egypt as a "center for interrogation and torture."

Also last year, mobile phone footage of policemen raping a microbus driver with an iron stick caused outcry among Egypt's activist communities. Several Egyptian bloggers uploaded the clip on their blogs, including the award-winning activist Wael Abbas who moderates Egyptian Awareness. The two policemen, identified as officers Islam Nabih and Reda Fathi, were later convicted.