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News analysis: Egypt's political instability blamed for citizens' conflicts with police

02-11-2013 07:33 BJT

CAIRO, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- Egypt's ongoing political chaos should be blamed for the recent conflicts between citizens and police and slim chances for better security conditions, analysts said.

Egypt saw "unprecedented acts of violence" Friday as anti- government protesters clashed with the police, said interior ministry spokesperson Hany Abdel-Latif, noting that some outlaws used birdshots and Molotov cocktails in attacking police stations, leaving over 100 policemen injured and several police vehicles burnt.

"The anti-police sentiment is attributed to decades of police brutality practiced during the era of former President Hosni Mubarak," Fouad Allam, a former official at the dissolved State Security Police Apparatus, told Xinhua.

Allam stressed that the current government should focus on restructuring police institutions and creating confidence between police forces and average citizens, otherwise the bitter experience of ousting Mubarak could find its ground with his successor.

Since President Mohamed Morsi came to office months ago, two interior ministers have been changed, and the current one has been demanded by protesters to resign over the aggression of policemen against a protester outside the presidential palace. The protester was beaten up and stripped before being dragged to a police vehicle a week ago.

Allam said Morsi's sacking two interior ministers was "such a big mistake," arguing that "no one could evaluate the performance of a minister in a few months."

He added that political stability would improve the relation between the police and the public, because those who attempt to incite clashes between the police and the citizens during protests would not find a room for that. "The people would not respond to them no matter how hard they try."

A recent official statement by the interior ministry showed that a policeman was killed and 394 were injured from Jan. 25 to Feb. 2 during anti-government protests, stating that many policemen lost their eyes by birdshots from the protesters.

Police stations and security premises have become targets of protesters in several governorates, such as Port Said and Suez, leading the police to withdraw and leave the floor to the armed forces.

Talaat Musallam, a security expert, said the police apparatus is currently suffering "partial collapse," and the accumulated anti-police sentiment and ongoing political tension are main reasons behind the citizens' aggressive attitude toward the police.

"Before 2011 uprising, the police used to treat people with arrogance and disrespect, which created hostility and mistrust between the two sides," Musallam added, noting that the recently- circulated video clips of policemen torturing, beating up or stripping citizens increased general disdain of the police.

Musallam told Xinhua that seeing three interior ministers in a few months reflected the government's "confusion" and " inefficiency" in running the country's affairs, highlighting the necessity of giving any minister a chance to work and implement his plans.

Meanwhile, policemen complained of using only tear gas bombs for protection against those who broke into the police stations using stones, Molotov cocktails and birdshots. The rage of policemen over the death of a colleague in a recent clash with protesters made some of them turn against the interior minister and refuse his participation in the man's funeral.

"The police forces cannot stop growing violence unless political stability is achieved," human rights activist Ayman Aqeel, head of Cairo-based Maat Center for Constitutional and Legal Rights, told Xinhua, warning that a split within security forces could send the country to the abyss.

Aqeel explained that security men are also suffering from financial and political pressures, in addition to more pressures from citizens.

"Violence leads to more violence," he warned, wondering how the policemen could control their temper while violent acts burnt their stations and even reached the presidential palace.

"A miracle is needed for such a political scene overwhelmed by major differences between the ruling regime and the opposition," added Aqeel.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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