Egypt's Minister of Interiors Mohamed Ibrahim (Photo: Al-Ahram Arabic language news website)
Egypt's Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim has said that the security preparations for upcoming anti-government protests on 30 June will entail the closing down of tunnels and ferries over the Suez Canal that connect Sinai to the rest of Egypt, to prevent the crossing of jihadists, state-run news agency MENA reported on Monday.
Egyptian opposition groups are planning nationwide protests against President Mohamed Morsi on 30 June, the end of his first year in power, to call for his ouster and early presidential elections.
"We will not allow the invasion of prisons again. This is because prisons are a red line; no one can cross it. Whoever tries, he will be penalised legally," Ibrahim said on Monday on popular television talk show 'Hona El-Asema' on CBC TV channel.
A large number of convicts escaped from Egyptian prisons during the mass protests against former president Hosni Mubarak's rule in 2011.
Police authorities are believed by some critics to have been responsible for a number of the prison escapes, by leaving prison gates deliberately open.
However, others claim that Hamas, the Islamist group ruling Gaza, orchestrated some of the prison breaks to free Muslim Brotherhood political prisoners.
Meanwhile, the minister reiterated that the security of the presidential palace, the expected location of the Cairo rallies, is the responsibility of the presidential guard.
However, he explained that interior ministry forces will be present at Itihadiya Palace to preempt clashes between opponents and supporters of Morsi.
"If clashes happen we will announce a separation between both sides so we don’t witness the scenes which happened at Itihadiya Palace before," he added.
On December 6 last year, clashes between supporters and opponents of Morsi outside the palace left ten dead and hundreds injured, according to the health ministry.
The interior minister further reiterated that no security will be provided by the ministry to the offices of any political party.
"Every party is responsible for securing its own offices. However, if violent clashes erupt between two groups, building or party office, we will go to disperse the clashes to protect everyone," he said.
"We will not put forces there [prior to clashes] because we don’t have enough manpower," he added.
"If I put security forces in front of the Freedom and Justice Party, then it is my duty to secure other parties like the [liberal] Wafd Party."
According to the minister, the interior ministry will also send forces to the Egyptian Media Production City (EMPC) on the outskirts of Cairo to protect the area.
In March, around 200 people were injured when anti-Brotherhood protesters clashed with members of the group at the Brotherhood's headquarters in Moqattam, Cairo, and stormed a number of its offices across the country.
The clashes sparked anger among Islamist groups, with some claiming that media outlets were biased. Some groups held protests outside the media compound.
"Everyone should know for sure that the institution of the police is a patriotic entity that aims for the security of citizens, and we have not clashed with any peaceful protests. I hope everyone helps us in achieving our mission," commented the minister.
"We are not following the regime; we are just like the institution of the armed forces. Our aim is to protect the Egyptian citizen," the minister asserted.