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 One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs