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Egypt's Freedom Party demands state revise strategy in 'war on terrorism'

The liberal Egypt Freedom Party proposes restructuring police institution, providing 'non-violent Islamists' a chance in political life and demands the Muslim Brotherhood denounce violence to join political process

Ahram Online, Monday 27 Jan 2014
Amr Hamzawy
Former member of parliament Amr Hamzawy reacts during an interview in Cairo January 21, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
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The Egypt Freedom Party, founded by liberal political figure and former MP Amr Hamzawy, condemned in a statement Sunday the latest terror attacks that targeted security forces in Sinai, and also slammed security violence in dealing with peaceful protests on Saturday.

The party criticised "violations committed by security forces against journalists and the random arrests of civilians participating in demonstrations." The liberal party said such violations conflict with the new protest law which only fines demonstrators without prior permits but does not allow their detention.

At least 62 were announced dead by the Health Ministry in clashes with security forces on Saturday when opposition groups, mostly Islamists and some non-Islamists, took to the streets on the third anniversary of Egypt's 25 January uprising.

More than 1000 protesters were also arrested in the process.

Journalists Against Torture (JAT) and the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) announced on Sunday it had documented the previous day 36 violations against the press, including the banning, assault and arrest of journalists, as well as the confiscation of their equipment.

"The state's practices in confronting terrorism and in maintaining democracy need strict revisions," the statement said, as they currently render "the dream of attaining stability far from achievable."

As violence continues to escalate across the country, the party proposed an initiative to end the current crisis which includes restructuring the police institution to change the way "it confronts peaceful protests, lacks professionalism and [develop its] ability to track down crime or thwart terrorist attacks."

The proposal also demanded cancelling the new protest law which, it said, recent police practices proved needs amending.

The initiative also included forming an investigative committee to look into the violence that took place on Saturday, adding that fighting terrorism should not be used as an excuse for security violations to occur without accountability.

"After six months of failing to achieve stability and combat terrorism, it should be [clear] that it will take more than confronting attacks; the roots of the problem need to be addressed… there needs to be a way out for members of the Islamist current who oppose violence, and assurances [given to them] of the possibility of [their] political participation."

Addressing the Islamist group, the party's statement finally advised "members of the Muslim Brotherhood (from which ousted president Mohamed Morsi hails) who wish to partake of the political process to categorically and permanently denounce violence and distance themselves from involvement in any new criminal acts carried out by their allies." 

An ongoing wave of terror attacks targeting security forces has struck Egypt since the security forces' dispersal of two large pro-Morsi protest camps last August, leaving hundreds dead.

On Sunday, four army soldiers died and 13 were injured when militants attacked their bus in North Sinai.

Earlier on Saturday, a military helicopter crashed in the restive peninsula leaving 5 officers dead.

Sinai-Based Islamist militant Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for both attacks.

The group also said they were behind Friday's attack that targetted the Cairo security directorate which left four dead.

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