CAIRO: Bedouins of North Sinai rejected a pledge by National Democratic Party MPs to resume negotiations in an effort to ease tensions between the disgruntled residents of the peninsula and the Ministry of Interior.
“We reject their offer completely,” spokesman Moussa El-Dilh told Daily News Egypt.
He said that most Bedouin elders see the initiative as too little, too late.
“They’re just riding the wave. They only paid attention to our demands when the issue garnered public opinion,” El-Dilh said, adding that they will continue to refuse reconciliation efforts “until an administrative authority ensures that the Ministry of Interior will attend to all our demands.”
“Unfortunately, we have lost all trust in the ministry,” he said.
On Saturday, local news reported that several ruling party MPs expressed willingness to mediate talks between the Ministry of Interior and the Bedouins of Sinai after a meeting with Interior Minister Habib El-Adly last Tuesday left Bedouins unsatisfied.
Among those who championed the initiative is MP Fayez Abu Harb, according to local news.
“MPs must present their constituencies’ problems and be the first to attend to its problems, but that didn’t happen,” said El-Dilh.
Bedouins and tribal elders are demanding the release of all detainees and the reexamination of cases filed against some Bedouin leaders in absentia, which they allege have been “fabricated.”
“There is a difference between prisoners and those detained under the emergency law. We are calling for a fair trial,” El-Dilh asserted.
They are also demanding an ease on security presence in and around their villages.
For years, Bedouins have complained of consistent harassment by police forces on their way in and out of Sinai.
Tension struck recently when a shootout between Bedouins and police forces left two passersby injured in Al-Oja crossing in June.
“Tension has somewhat eased in the cities, but villages and Bedouin settlements are still under siege,” El-Dilh said, describing the current security measures in Sinai.
“There are feelings of caution and surveillance, as if residents are expecting something to happen. These are unusual circumstances,” he added.
Meanwhile, El-Dilh said that authorities released five Bedouin detainees on Saturday, and that more were to follow.
“They [the released detainees] conveyed a bad image of detention facilities,” he said.
El-Dilh pointed to Ibrahim Al-‘Argany who is now suffering from Hemiplegia (paralysis of half the body) following alleged beatings by police in a detention facility in Borg Al Arab. Al-‘Argany has been in custody since February.