In a formal complaint submitted to the attorney general, 11 café owners in Cairo’s Abdin district called on President Hosni Mubarak to protect them from police, who, they claim, recently raided their coffee shops and confiscated furniture and appliances. Café owners also called for personal intervention by the president’s influential son, Gamal.
According to café owner Sobhi Wahdan, police recently stormed his shop and confiscated three television sets, two refrigerators, 80 chairs and 18 tables. Police officials said that Wahdan lacked a license to run a café.
"What can I do?" Wahdan asked. "I applied for a license a long time ago and the governor hasn’t approved it yet."
"They refused to take my written complaint at the police station," Essam el-Sherif, another café owner, complained. "Police had no right to smash the locks and break in."
Abdin Municipal Council head Khalil Ghazi said that he has told the owners for two years that no licenses would be granted for cafés in the area owing to the potential risk they posed to the nearby Cairo and Alexandria Stock Exchange building and the many hotels that surround it.
"Not to mention the fact that there are indecent activities taking place inside these cafés," Ghazi said.