News / Middle East

Egypt’s Interior Ministry - Continuous Object of Anger, Dissent

Rebecca Collard

For well over a year now, the center of Cairo has been a flashpoint for violence between protesters and security forces. But the battleground is not always the city’s now world-renowned Tahrir Square.

Earlier this month, when at least 74 Egyptians died in post-soccer game clashes in Port Said, demonstrators gathered in front of the Ministry of the Interior to show their anger. That’s because, they claim, it was the police controlled by the ministry that stood by while people were being massacred.

For Egyptians, the ministry is a symbol of much more than just internal state affairs.

Under the now-ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the streets of Egypt were essentially ruled not by the army that now clashes with activists downtown, but by police forces run by the Ministry of the Interior. These often conscripted, usually black uniformed forces, were the ones that controlled the country’s streets, standing on near every corner.

It was these forces that entered Tahrir Square with brutal force in the early days of Egypt’s uprising one year ago. In all, some 850 people died, according to Egyptian government figures.

Civil society groups and activists say reforming this ministry and its security forces will be key to moving Egypt away from the sort of rights violations and abuses that had become endemic under the previous regime.

As Sherif Azer, an activist for the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, puts it, for decades the government and the ministry opted for “a security solution over a political solution,” what, many say, is aptly symbolized by the gigantic walls surrounding the ministry building.

Ex-Interior Minister Habib Al-Adly today faces charges over his role in the killing of Tahrir Square protesters as police orders came from his ministry. Attempts to hold him accountable seem like a move forward but not all in Egypt are so sure. While Al-Adly may be gone and on trial, there are still thousands of ministry employees, many of whom have worked there for decades, who will remain at their posts and, as of yet, no major overhaul of the institution is planned.

At the same time, it’s unclear who will control the ministry in the new government. The Muslim Brotherhood, whose candidates won the largest number of seats in Egypt’s new parliament is keen to have it under its control. In many ways it’s not surprising as, under the previous regime, members of the then-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood suffered unspeakable abuses at the hands of the ministry’s forces.

Others fear that the institution, if unreformed, will remain what to many it has been all along - an instrument of oppression and tool against dissent.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices
. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid