Al Jazeera airs alleged leaks of Egypt interior minister on 'dealing with protesters'

Ahram Online , Tuesday 24 Feb 2015

The broadcast comes after renewed Egyptian and Qatari tensions, following Egypt's airstrikes on Libya

Egypt's Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim (Photo: Reuters)

The Qatari-owned Al Jazeera news network on Monday broadcast what it claimed to be a leaked recording of the Egyptian interior minister advising policemen on how to deal with protesters.

In the recording, a voice attributed to Mohamed Ibrahim is heard speaking to a group of police personnel in a meeting. He calls for "decisiveness in confronting" protesters.

The network had previously aired alleged leaks attributed to President Abd El-Fattah El-Sisi in 2014, before he became president.

Egypt's relations with Qatar have been thorny since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, who was closely aligned with Doha during his shortlived tenure.

Qatar criticised the ouster of Morsi in the summer of 2013 calling it a "coup".

Doha has also given refuge to a number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders who are wanted on criminal charges in Cairo.

Egypt has repeatedly accused Qatar of backing the Muslim Brotherhood, banned and deemed terrorist by Cairo, and intervening in its domestic affairs.

Cairo shut down Al Jazeera's operations in Egypt immediately following the ouster of Morsi, accusing it of bias and incitement.

In December 2014, amid Saudi mediation efforts, Qatar closed its Egyptian service, Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr in a gesture of good will towards Cairo.

However, last week Egyptian and Qatari diplomats locked horns over Egypt's airstrikes on Libya following the Islamic State (IS) murder of 20 Egyptian Copts in Libya.

During an Arab League meeting, Egypt accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, triggering Doha to recall its ambassador in Cairo.

Alleged leaks

In the leaked recording a voice is heard speaking about how police should deal with demonstrations.

"Do not hesitate to use what the law has allowed you," he said. "The law allows us [action] starting from water to automatic [weapons]. Deal gradually [with the protesters] according to the law," he said.

"I hope for decisiveness in confrontation. I hope you do not give them the chance to rally in the first place, even if you have to deal with them at the mosque. This is a national security issue."

He instructed policemen not to allow crowds to grow beyond their control, saying they should be quickly dispersed as soon as they start to gather.

He also advised members of the security forces to cover their faces during the arrest prominent opposition figures in order to avoid their identity being revealed and them becoming a target.

Speaking to Al Jazeera about the alleged leak, Hamza Zoba', previously a leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood's now-dissolved Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), said the leak "proves" that Egypt is ruled by a "gang".

However, the editor-in-chief of weekly newspaper Al-Mashhad Magdi Shendi told Al Jazeera that the recording is "normal" and does not "reflect breaking the law".

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