CAIRO - While Egyptian police officers and men in plain clothes holding knives and sticks surrounded and searched our car, a 12-year-old boy with dirty hair and ragged clothes opened his switchblade, smiled and pointed it at me.

"I love you," he said, waving the knife. "We're here to take care of you."

Given how many foreign journalists said they had been beaten and detained in Egypt over the last two days, I was skeptical.

Pro-democracy protesters have held their ground in Cairo's central Tahrir Square for the last week. But in the city's sprawling slums, away from the international media's gaze, Egypt's massive police apparatus is still firmly in control.

Police stopped my colleague, our driver and me on Friday as we passed through Rod el-Farag, a poor neighborhood near the Nile Tower, a modern building home to bank branches, a mall and the offices of several private companies.

Alexander Dziadosz's story continues below via Mochila: