By Manar Mohsen
Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim ordered riot police to refrain from the use of force against 30 June protesters during a meeting with the Central Security Department on Saturday.
The Ministry of Interior released a press statement on its plan to protect peaceful demonstrators, ensure safety on the street, and secure public and private property during the 30 June protests.
Ibrahim met with riot police to outline their responsibility to ensure public safety and quell any attempts by individuals to wreak havoc during the protests, according to the press statement.
“The role of the police on the 30th will be to protect the Egyptian streets, peaceful protesters, public and private property, and the safety of the public at large,” said Hany Abdel Latif, head of the Ministry’s media centre. “We intend to keep the streets safe from any form of unlawful activity.”
Ahmed Helmy, a Ministry of Interior aide, insisted during a press conference on Saturday that the Ministry maintains its politically neutral position regarding the protests, and that its main concern is to carry out its duty of ensuring national security.
However, political forces in support of the 30 June protests remain sceptical about the Ministry’s pledge to refrain from attacking the anti-Morsi demonstrators.
Ahmed Hawary, spokesperson for the National Salvation Front, called the Ministry’s statements “neither trustworthy nor credible,” reasoning that security forces had repeatedly attacked peaceful demonstrations in the past.
Hawary added that it is difficult to believe the Ministry’s statement considering that the popular demand to reform the institution after the January 25 uprising has so far been ignored. He explained that the police have continued to use violent tactics against peaceful protesters as before and are systematically granted criminal immunity if the disobey orders to refrain from the use of violence.
“The police had received similar orders during previous peaceful demonstrations and yet we were still beaten, tear gassed and shot at with rubber bullets and birdshot,” Hawary said.
Although pro-Morsi groups held a protest on Friday to denounce violence, Hawary believes it is highly likely there will be clashes on 30 June if Islamist forces attempt to physically confront protesters.
“Any presence of Islamist or pro-Morsi groups at our protest is a form of provocation and incitement toward violence,” he said.
Last week, the Ministry outlined its security plan to protect all future political events and demonstrations on the condition that they are within the bounds of “democracy and freedom of expression.”
The Ministry said it intends to intensify security patrols in all streets, squares, and main roads on 30 June. It emphasized that security forces will take the necessary measures to secure important institutions and buildings, including those belonging to the Ministry of Interior, airports, seaports, the American embassy, and the Radio and Television Building.