Opposition Groups: Egypt’s Minister of Interior must leave

Ahram Online , Friday 28 Feb 2014

Opposition groups call for Mohamed Ibrahim to leave his post as human rights organisations condemn 'failures to confront terrorism' and the 'resurgence of police torture in Egypt'

General Mohamed Ibrahim (Photo: Reuters)

News of the continuation of Egyptian Minister of Interior, Mohamed Ibrahim in the upcoming cabinet has angered many political figures and police reform advocates who have long demanded Ibrahim’s dismissal.

Four prominent political parties, including the liberal Constitution Party and the Egyptian Social Democratic party, issued a statement on Friday voicing their opposition to the continuation of Ibrahim as interior minister.

The statement accused the current security apparatus of being unable to face the increasing frequency of militant attacks, leaving many questioning the ministry’s ability to respond to such a challenge.

“Not to mention that there are almost daily testimonies of political prisoners, revolutionary youth or even criminal detainees being subject to torture,” added the statement.“

Ibrahim’s main challenge following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi last July, has been a militant insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula and a growing number of terrorist attacks across the country that have killed dozens of police and soldiers.

Last January, General Mohamed Said, one of Ibrahim’s aides was shot dead in Giza. Ibrahim himself survived an assassination attempt last September.

Meanwhile, Shahenda Maklad, a member of the National Council for Human Rights also says that she holds both Ibrahim and the interior ministry responsible of “the police officers who die every day”.

Recent months have witnessed an increase in allegations of arbitrary arrests and torture at the hands of police.

On 12 February, a statement was issued by 16 Human rights organisations demanding swift investigations into what they described as "increasing and shocking allegations of torture and sexual assaults against those detained at police stations since 25 January[2014].”

However, the interior ministry has vehemently denied such accusations.

"In light of complaints in the media by pre-trial detainees about ill treatment and torture, the Ministry of Interior assures that none of these claims are true and the ministry is ready to receive any complaint for inspection," read the statement issued by the ministry.

The police under Ibrahim’s leadership has been accused of returning to the same brutal tactics practised during the Mubarak regime, one of the main catalysts behind the mass protests that lead to his ouster on February 2011.

Since Morsi’s ouster, the police have launched a severe crackdown on Islamists, jailing thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members, leaders and sympathisers.

In recent months, particularly after the launching of a controversial protest law last November, scores of non-Islamists activists were put behind bars including vocal opponents to Mubarak’s regime such as April 6 leader Ahmed Maher and prominent activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah.

Ibrahim was first appointed as interior minister in a cabinet reshuffle in January 2013 under the leadership of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. He was one of the few ministers to keep his post after the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood leader.

Calls for his dismissal intensified by both members of the opposition and human rights activists, after the dispersal of pro-Morsi protest camps in Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Nahda Square left hundreds dead.

Ibrahim along with members in the new cabinet are expected to be sworn in within days.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb said during his first speech as head of the government that the new cabinet will have security and public services at the top of its agenda and vowed to provide full logistic, financial and moral support to the police.

Mehleb succeeded Hazem El-Beblawi after the latter announced the resignation of his cabinet on Monday.

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