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Egypt rights groups demand interior minister's dismissal

Excessive use of violence against protesters and impunity for state forces severely criticised by rights groups

Ahram Online , Monday 29 Jul 2013
Fireworks are set off near police and anti-Mursi protesters by supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi during clashes in Nasr city area, east of Cairo July 27, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
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Egyptian rights groups have called for the interior minister's removal after at least 80 people wear killed at a pro-Morsi protest on Saturday.

Nine rights organisations said they were "severely alarmed by the massacre" in Cairo and by deadly clashes in Alexandria over the weekend.

Supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi must also shun violence, they added.

They went on to deplore alleged cases of torture by pro-Morsi protesters in their protest camp in Cairo's Nasr City.

In a Monday statement, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, among other groups, claimed interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim, who was appointed by Mohamed Morsi, had yet to be held accountable for the killing of protesters during Morsi's period in office.

"He was further rewarded by the current interim president by retaining his post."

The groups slammed the use of "excessive, lethal violence" by security forces against protesters in recent days. The scenes were reminiscent of behaviour used by police during the reigns of Hosni Mubarak and the military council, they added.

Saturday's violence has thrown Egypt into deeper turmoil, further stalling the country's transition to democracy.

"If the current violent political polarisation continues amid the continued absence of political will to achieve justice…Egyptians can hope for nothing more than fewer victims at future massacres," read the statement.

The security forces have violated international principles on the use of force and firearms against demonstrators, the groups claimed.

Under Egyptian law, law enforcement may only use firearms against individuals in self-defence or to prevent a serious and life-threatening crime, or to arrest suspects posing a serious threat, the statement added.

The groups also condemned the violence on 8 July when security forces gunned down more than 50 pro-Morsi protesters outside the Republican Guard headquarters. The army claimed armed men attacked troops but this has been disputed by the Muslim Brotherhood and others.

The rights groups said the government failed to hold Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood accountable for "crimes" it committed against peaceful protesters, media personnel and rights activists during the president's year in power.

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