Police warn against 'aggression' on Mohamed Mahmoud clashes anniversary

Ahram Online, Sunday 17 Nov 2013

Egypt's Interior Ministry says it respects demonstrations commemorating 'martyrs' killed in clashes with the police in November 2011, but warns against 'infiltrators who want a return to violence'

Mohamed Mahmoud street clashes
Protesters throw stones at police who are firing tear gas, during clashes near Tahrir Square in Cairo November 23, 2011. (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's Interior Ministry said Sunday it has taken all neccessary measures to secure Tuesday's commemoration of the 2011 deadly Mohamed Mahmoud Street clashes. 
The ministry warned in an official statement to groups expected to demonstrate on the anniversary against "elements that might infiltrate the gatherings to threaten public security and peaceful protest."
In addition, the ministry said it, "respects reviving the memory of all martyrs for their role in the process of national work." It also extended its condolences to those whose "blood soaked the tree of national struggle."
Around 47 protesters were killed in November 2011 during four days of clashes in Mohamed Mahmoud Street, near the Interior Ministry, between police forces and protesters opposed to the then ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which assumed control of the country following Hosni Mubarak's ouster. 
During the clashes, protesters called for the military council to step down and accused the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest political force at the time, of inadequately condemning the security forces' violence against protesters.
In March, a Cairo court sentenced First Lieutenant Mahmoud El-Shinnawy — known as the "eye sniper" — to three years in prison for deliberately shooting at protesters' eyes during the clashes.
The Mohamed Mahmoud Street clashes fuelled anti-Interior Ministry sentiment that had been a major factor in the 25 January uprising that led to the ouster of president Mubarak after 30 years of autocratic rule. A heavy-handed police apparatus was a mark of the Mubarak regime. 
On the first anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud Street events, deadly clashes between protesters and police resumed, with at least three killed.
However, following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi 3 July, there has been growing support for the police alongside the military, with army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi portrayed in heroic terms for having responded swiftly to mass protests against Morsi.
The police has subsequently played a significant role in the crackdown on pro-Morsi groups, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood from which he hails, with widespread arrests, and forcibly dispersing sit-ins leaving hundreds dead.
The Brotherhood has been largely shunned by the masses in Egypt following a year in power that sparked wide criticism of their policies, deemed by detractors "extremist and not nationalistic."
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