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Egyptian police promise impartiality - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Egyptian protesters run for cover from tear gas fired by riot police during clashes in Cairo, on March 8, 2013. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD KHALED

Egyptian protesters run for cover from tear gas fired by riot police during clashes in Cairo, on March 8, 2013. (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD KHALED

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Serving Egyptian police officers have told Asharq Al-Awsat that they have informed their leaders of their refusal to protect the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, amid anger among the police against the ruling party.

Pictures taken at the General Assembly of the Police Association showed dozens of officers chanting “down with the rule of the Guide,” in reference to Brotherhood leader and General Guide Mohammad Badi’a. This come a week after similar chants during the funeral of a police officer thought to have been killed by Islamist extremists in Sinai.

A major in the Special Operations division, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “there is total rejection among police officers to protect Brotherhood headquarters. Officers have refused to protect Brotherhood buildings on a number of occasions, the last of which was a few days ago, when an officer at the Maqtam Police Station in south Cairo refused to protect the Brotherhood general headquarters in Maqtam and withdrew his men back to their base.”

Revolutionary forces are planning a major demonstration at the end of this month, calling on the president to hold early presidential elections.

The major continued: “There is a consensus among police officers on the importance of staying neutral during the June 30 demonstrations. We will not be on anyone’s side against the other, and there are clear instructions from our commanders in that regards.”

Another major, who also insisted on anonymity, said Maj. Gen. Ashraf Abdullah, assistant interior minister for central security affairs, “was still standing by his officers, and supported their position on being neutral and protecting public installations.”

He added: “If there were any clashes, God forbid, between the protesters and members of the Brotherhood, we have instructions to separate them, and if we fired a canister of teargas at one side, we will fire one at the other.”

Opposition activists say the police were not impartial in the demonstrations marking the January 25 Revolution. At the time, police used force to disperse protesters outside the Ittihadiyah Presidential Palace, east Cairo, and in front of the Maqtam headquarters of the Brotherhood.

However, interior minister Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ibrahim said last week that police will not use force against peaceful demonstrators, will not be present around the demonstrations, and will not protect Brotherhood buildings.

Other police sources, who requested anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat yesterday that “there is pressure on Major General Ibrahim to protect Brotherhood buildings, but there is fear of anger from junior officers, which could send the situation spiraling out of control.”

The same sources added that “the pressure from political leaders was continuing, but that until now, there was still agreement among officers on police impartiality. However, the picture will become clearer as we get closer to on June 30.”