CAIRO: Bedouins of North Sinai are demanding that the Ministry of Interior release all detainees and reexamine cases filed against some Bedouin leaders in absentia, which they allege have been “fabricated.”
In a meeting Thursday held south of the city of Rafah amid a heavy security presence, Bedouins and tribal elders called for lifting security siege from around some of the villages inhabited by Bedouins, spokesman Moussa El-Dilh was quoted in local news as saying.
Bedouins have long complained of consistent harassment by government police forces on their way in and out of Sinai.
They demanded their issues be handled by an authority other than the ministry of interior, slamming the ministry as “untrustworthy,” according to local news.
Thursday’s gathering came in reaction to an unsatisfying meeting with Interior Minister Habib El-Adly on Tuesday which Bedouins said didn’t offer appropriate solutions to their problems.
As a result, hundreds protested after the meeting with El-Adly and called for another press conference to voice their demands to the media.
On Friday, Al-Shorouk newspaper quoted an interior ministry official at Ahmed Hamdy tunnel, which runs under the Suez Canal, as saying that after Tuesday’s meeting El-Adly instructed officials at the tunnel not to stop Bedouin elders and their families for long hours before letting them pass.
El-Adly said that Bedouins should be treated like any other citizen and that they should not be treated as if they are a target, according to the same source.
Tension struck between Bedouins and security forces in Al-Oja crossing last week when a shootout injured two passersby.
After security forces raided the village of Wadi Amr near the crossing at dawn in search of Bedouins wanted by the state or tried in absentia, a group of them held up the road leading to Al-Oja crossing.
Security forces converged and the two sides exchanged gunfire, which hit truck drivers caught in crossfire.