CAIRO: A Bedouin spokesman wanted by authorities has vowed that Bedouin outcasts will not back down in their struggle with the state in the area of Wadi Amr in Central Sinai nor will they turn over wanted tribesmen to the state.
Tarabin member and spokesman Moussa El-Dilh — who is now also wanted by the state after recent turmoil in Central Sinai which led to the closure of Al-Oja crossing — told Daily News Egypt that the face-off with authorities would continue as long as it was felt that authorities were not respecting the law they purported to uphold.
He added that no member of the Tarabin tribe will give up Salem Abu Lafi, wanted by authorities for a number of crimes. He had escaped from a police convoy in an incident where two policemen were shot.
“Why should we respect the law that is constantly broken by authorities? They have no respect for the law, why are we expected to uphold it in that case?” El-Dilh said.
“This isn’t about crimes that have been committed, this is about our pride,” he added, “We will not give up Salem Abu Lafi to a state that breaks the law against us constantly.”
Recent crackdowns in the Wadi Amr area to find Abu Lafi irked residents, who retaliated in a shootout which led to the closure of the road that leads to Al-Oja crossing. Two drivers caught in the crossfire were injured.
El-Dilh spoke to Daily News Egypt after authorities prevented many members of the press from attending a conference organized Sunday by the Tarabin spokesman in Wadi Amr.
El-Dilh also said that if the state persisted in its method of cracking down on residents, then troubles would lead to the continued closure of Al-Oja crossing.
Tensions were also exacerbated by recent comments made by North Sinai Governor Mourad Muwafi who allegedly said that Bedouin leaders were corrupt and took bribes.
North Sinai Tagammu party member Khalil Jabr Sawarkeh told Daily News Egypt Monday, “Is this the talk of an appointed government official? It shows what the regime really thinks of us Bedouins, no wonder there is always trouble here.”
However, five Bedouins hailing from Al-Arish were released from custody Monday evening to bring the number of released Bedouin detainees by the Ministry of Interior to 157.
Bedouins in Sinai have long protested the detainment of many of their sons by the Interior Ministry under the tenets of the emergency law. Recent attempts by the government to calm simmering tensions in the area have led to the release of some of the detained Bedouins.
Those released have included activists Mussad Abu Fagr and Yehia Abu Nusseirah.
According to a member of the parliamentary national security and defense committee, 419 Sinai Bedouins had been detained under the emergency law. The release of the latest batch of detainees means that 262 remain in detention, under the emergency law, some 50 of them detained in relation to the Sinai bombings.
Despite the continued releases, tensions still persist between Bedouins and the state, with one side bemoaning their treatment by authorities and the other claiming it is merely seeking wanted fugitives.
On Tuesday in Central Sinai a bus was seized by unknown, armed assailants. The bus was carrying 30 workers of the Sinai Cement Company as well as a retired police officer.
The assailants forced the passengers off the bus before driving off in it.