First Published: 2013-03-10

 

Collapse of state institutions under Brotherhood’s rule: Egypt Interior Ministry as example

 

Discontent in Egypt's police ranks boils over into unprecedented strike, with officers saying they will refuse orders until they are no longer used as political pawns.

 

Middle East Online

By Mona Salem – CAIRO

Nothing seems to stem spreading discontent

Discontent in Egypt's police ranks has boiled over into an unprecedented strike, with officers saying they will refuse orders until they are no longer used as political pawns, adding to the problems of President Mohamed Morsi.

Accused of excessive use of force by the opponents of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, police officers say they feel despised by the people when they are simply following orders -- and they will not take any more.

"We are suspending our work indefinitely because we refuse to take responsibility for the mistakes of a government that wants to get involved in political conflicts," police Colonel Hassan Mostafa said in Port Said.

"All of society is against us, it considers the demonstrators (killed in clashes) to be martyrs, and we don't even have the right to defend ourselves," he added.

The police, particularly the Central Security Forces (CSF), have been engaged in violent and deadly street clashes with protesters, turning the public even more against an already reviled institution long accused of abuses.

The CSF is the branch of the interior ministry used to quell protests.

The police want a law to clearly lay down their powers and duties, and have also demanded weapons to deal with ongoing political protests.

The police "are paying the price of a political conflict. They risk prosecution (over the deaths of protesters) or getting killed" in clashes which have spiked since the end of 2012, General Abdel Tawab Hefni of the police headquarters in Alexandria told the independent daily Al-Shorouk.

The discontent began weeks ago with isolated pockets of protest, but by Thursday police were on strike in areas of Cairo, Alexandria, the Nile Delta, the Suez Canal provinces, southern provinces and the Sinai Peninsula.

In an attempt to ease tensions, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim on Friday sacked the head of the CSF and appointed a new chief.

But his announcement did little to placate angry police, who said they will pursue their protest.

"We will continue our strike until the government accepts our demands, which are to keep the police of politics, stop the 'Brotherhoodisation' of the police (the appointment of Muslim Brotherhood members to key posts) and the dismissal of the interior minister," Colonel Mohamed Fawzi of Cairo police told Al-Shorouk.

On Sunday, Ibrahim pleaded for an end to "rumours" of police abuse, saying his forces had not fired a single shot at protesters since the start of the 2011 uprising.

He sought to dispel accusations that he was close to the Brotherhood, and tried to paint a united front among police, saying that those on strike were a minority, adding that he also wanted to be kept out of politics.

"We call on everyone to keep us out of their equations. We don't belong to any faction, ideology, opposition," Ibrahim said.

Protests have also been staged among CSF members.

In the port city of Ismailiya, CSF officers refused to be deployed to neighbouring Port Said, where clashes since the end of January between police and protesters have killed more than 48 people, including three policemen.

On Friday, Morsi had to call in the army to secure the city.

Police in Egypt have been reviled for decades by much of the population. And despite the ouster in early 2011 of Hosni Mubarak's autocratic regime who relied on massive force to quell dissent, it is still considered a repressive institution.

According to local rights groups, more than 70 protesters have been killed since November 2012. On Saturday, two protesters were killed in fresh clashes in Cairo.

The cases of two activists allegedly kidnapped and tortured, Mohammed El-Guindi, 27, and Mohammed el-Shafei, 22, have caused outrage and reignited calls for police reform.

The police strike and the violence of recent days in Cairo and Port Said have to President Morsi's "troubles in-box," as he faces civil unrest and dissent across the country.

Commentators are already warning against a "collapse" of the police.

"The ministry of the interior is on the verge of collapse (...) and I see no other solution than early presidential elections," wrote Abdel Rahman Youssef, a moderate Islamist columnist, in Al-Shorouk.

 

IS bid to seize Kobane stalls amid air strikes

Six Tunisians killed in police-gunmen standoff

Iraq MPs divide over Kurds deployment to aid Kobane

Suspicious envelopes to consulates in Istanbul prompt alert

Morocco fossils: A rare and vanishing treasure

Germany offers to help Armenia forge peace with Turkey

Libya wakes up from ‘Dubai dream’ to face Somalia-like ‘failed state’

South Yemen separatists vow to intensify secession protests

Relatives of Iraq massacre victims: Blackwater guards should be killed

Ghannouchi makes it clear to Tunisia: It’s either political Islam or Daesh!

Deadly clashes erupt after army raid in northern Lebanon

200 Iraqi Kurd fighters to travel through Turkey to Kobane

Coalition strikes in Syria eliminate more than 500 jihadists in one month

Ahead of elections, new clashes remind Tunisia of need to fight terror

Saudi Arabia jails mothers for preparing sons to wage jihad

Jury finds Blackwater guards guilty of 2007 'massacre' in Iraq

Iraq Kurds approve reinforcements for Kobane

Israel classifies car crash as ‘hit and run terror attack’

Turkish woman arrested for stepping on Koran

Erdogan criticises US for airdrops on Kobane

Iraq schools provide shelter but late to open for classes

Syria air force shoots down two of three 'IS warplanes'

Egypt court rules on ‘Nasr City terror cell’

Fire from Egypt wounds two Israeli soldiers near border

By hook or by crook, settlers notch up property gains in East Jerusalem

Turkey envoy meets leader of parallel government in Libya

Israel arrests seven Palestinian fishermen off northern Gaza

Khamenei to Abadi: Iraq can beat 'Islamic State' without foreign troops

Saudi special court rules in cases of riots and terrorism

Libya army scores small victory in Benghazi

Only in Libya: Government calls for civil disobedience

Kasserine reaps bitter harvest from Tunisia revolution: Poverty and terrorism

Iraq Kurds set to vote on deployment of Peshmerga forces to Syria

Islamic State ‘share in US weapons’ embarrasses Pentagon

Alderton: Morocco unrivalled business gateway to sub-Saharan Africa

Protests over IS turn Istanbul University into war zone

Turkey eyes stricter punishment against lawbreakers at protests

For Sudan President: Promises are something and re-election is something else

Iran returns Abadi to ‘house of obedience’

From traditional military to counterinsurgency force: Syria army grows more capable

South Sudan rivals accept 'responsibility' for civil war

British drones in Iraq also used for Syria surveillance

Turkey launches new wave of wire-tapping arrests

Rise of Shiite militias challenges government authority in Iraq

Syria Kurds show impressive resistance to ‘Islamic State’ in Kobane