The French-Egyptian journalist Alain Gresh, chief editor of Le Monde Diplomatique, says he was interrogated by police in downtown Cairo on Tuesday after a patron in a cafe heard him speaking about politics with two other reporters.
Gresh told Ahram Online that he was in a cafe near the British embassy in the Garden City district with two Egyptian female journalists, discussing Egypt's current political situation, when a lady at the next table screamed at them: "You want to destroy the country."
She then went outside and spoke with police officers, who stopped Gresh and his colleagues when they were leaving and asked for his ID and passport, said the editor.
The area by the British embassy is heavily patrolled with security forces, as the US embassy is also down the street.
Gresh says he and the two journalists were detained in the street for an hour-and-a-half, while Gresh had to answer many questions, such as where he lived in Egypt. He says he contacted both the French embassy in Cairo and the head of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate Diaa Rashwan, who used his government contacts to make sure all three persons were released.
Gresh says the interior ministry invited him at 6pm to meet the minister's assistant for human rights, who apologised to the editor for the "misunderstanding."
He told Ahram Online that the security forces were polite with him and the two other journalists – but that the incident was a bad sign of things to come.
"What is alarming about this is not that we were stopped by the police, but that a civilian woman went mad at us and reported us to the police because of a conversation about politics. That's what is alarming," he said.