In his first media appearance, Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar said 25 January is not a cause of fear among the police, in a televised interview on Saturday night.
The interview came just two days ahead of the fifth anniversary of the 25 January uprising, and was aired on state television. Abdel Ghaffar discussed several issues related to the police and security.
Regarding the upcoming 25 January anniversary, he said: “We celebrate such an occasion and do not fear it, as policemen play their roles according to a clear and stable system, and they are ready for any possible scenarios.”
However, he added: “We expect that some people might want to express their views but it has to be according to the Protest Law.”
Dozens of military tanks that bore the slogan of “Citizens’ Security Forces” lined up in Tahrir Square Friday night. The security patrols are jointly undertaken with policemen, to secure Tahrir square and its entries, and to safeguard “vital facilities”.
On 24 January 2015, a march commemorating the victims of the 25 January Revolution was dispersed by policemen and resulted in killing political activist Shaimaa Al-Sabbagh. On the anniversary 14 more people were killed in other places across Egypt, and at least 150 were arrested, but are not currently detained.
“Some people might be afraid of the anniversary because, to them, it is linked with the vandalism and unrest that happened on the same day in 2011,” he said.
According to Abdel Ghaffar, the Muslim Brotherhood-planned “acts of terror” are at the top of the interior ministry’s priorities until present, yet they do not pose a threat to them.
“Even if [the Muslim Brotherhood forces] stopped rioting, they would still propagate rumours against policemen,” he said.
Before being appointed as interior minister, Abdel Ghaffar worked in the National Security apparatus. When asked about the difference in the apparatus between 2011 and current times, he said: “The apparatus’ work is based on a plan and vision that takes into account the mistakes that were made before 2011, in order to avoid them later on.”
He further denied any phone surveillance for citizens, and said people might be wary of talking over the phone probably because of increased technological developments that allow penetration of phone calls.
Meanwhile, the ministry recently started looking into complaints from the semi-official National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) on missing people, whose family members have alleged to be arrested.
“The concept of human rights has now changed in the ministry, and the term enforced disappearances was created recently to cause disputes between policemen and citizens,” Abdel Ghaffar said.
“When we examined the cases, we found that many of them have gone missing deliberately. Some even went to join terror groups without notifying their families,” he said.
Regarding the situation in Sinai, he said the security situation has majorly improved compared to 2013, claiming that since the Muslim Brotherhood rule the influx of terrorists has been large, but since confrontations started, the situation is becoming “much more stable”.
The militant insurgency in North Sinai has been targeting police and military forces for years, having peaked after the ouster of the Brotherhood in July. In a comprehensive military raid that started in early January, dozens of militants have been killed and arrested according to the military spokesperson.