Egyptian interior ministry defends police after student death

Ahram Online, Tuesday 3 Dec 2013

Prosecutors have said that a student who died in clashes last week was killed by other students, not the police

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

Egypt’s Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said Tuesday that security forces had shown “patience” with protesting students.

Ibrahim's comments come after one student was killed Thursday during clashes with security forces near Cairo University.

Cairo University accused police of firing teargas and birdshot at protesters on campus during the clashes, and causing engineering student Mohamed Reda’s death.

On Monday, the prosecutor-general's office said Reda was shot dead by other protesters who used birdshot guns not owned by security forces.

The student union from Cairo University's Faculty of Engineering released a statement in response on the same day, describing the prosecution's report as "lying" and "a fabrication," and vowed not to give up the slain student's rights.

Ibrahim also told reporters on Tuesday that students should realise they were being drawn into a “conspiracy” that aimed at bringing the Muslim Brotherhood back to power, calling on them not to follow those who wanted to divide the country.

Since Islamist president Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the military in July following mass protests calling for his exit, his supporters have been staging regular protests calling for his reinstatement. With the start of the school year in September, Egypt's universities have been caught at the heart of the country's political instability.

In November, authorities allowed police to enter university campuses without prior permission if facilities or students were under threat. Previously, police had been barred from accessing campuses unless invited by university authorities.

A newly-issued protest law also entitles security forces to disperse gatherings that have not been previously approved by security officials and to ban protests believed to pose a threat to public order.

Regarding the assassination of Mohamed Mabrouk, a senior officer in the National Security apparatus shot dead near his home in November, Ibrahim said the state could not prevent all crimes.

"But we are learning from our mistakes and there is more security now. The dispersal of the Rabaa [protest camp] was the start, not the end," Ibrahim said, referring to the violent dispersal by security forces in mid-August of the Islamist sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adawiya which left hundreds of protesters dead.

Since Morsi's ouster, attacks against security forces and police stations have increased, especially in the north of the Sinai peninsula.

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