CAIRO – Sporadic riots recalling the early days of the Tahrir Square revolution
were spreading throughout Egypt over the weekend, but this time with thousands
of police going on strike and refusing to confront the rioters.
Egyptians called on the army to step in to rule the country and topple the
regime of President Mohammed Morsi. Slogans on posters reading "We will win the
January 25th revolution," "We will get back our revolution from the thieves and
impostors" and "Long live the Egyptians, and long live the army" indicated the
protesters would be happy to see the army step in to replace the police in
overseeing security affairs.
Rioting was reported in Cairo, Port Said,
Alexandria, Mansoura, Mahala and Assuit. The police withdrawal coincided with
the court ruling on Saturday over last year's Port Said violence in which 70
spectators in the city were killed over a soccer match. The court upheld death
sentences for 21 of the rioters, and sentenced two police officers to 15 years
in prison but pardoned seven others, angering fans who participated in the
weekend riots and who hold the regime responsible for the Port Said
Protests took place at several locations around Cairo, where
the Egyptian Soccer Federation was set on fire and looted by Al-Ahly soccer club
protesters, Al-Ahram reported. Most of those killed in Port Said last February
were fans of that team.
Protesters in Port Said unsuccessfully tried to
stop shipping on the Suez Canal, Egyptian state television reported. However,
ferries crossing the canal were prevented from doing so. Riots in the city also
increased following the court ruling.
Meanwhile Egyptians moved to have
the army take over control of running the country. Over the last week, the
Egyptian media reported that thousands of Egyptians went to Defense Minister
General Abdel Fatah Elsissi asking him to sign a power of attorney calling for
the army to take over state affairs and topple Morsi's regime.
has surrounded the Security Directorate buildings in several major cities
including Cairo, Alexandria and Port Said after the police withdrew from police
stations and stopped patrolling the streets early Friday. Armed personnel
carriers can be seen around the Security Directorate buildings, in a show that
the army is now replacing the police forces in these cities in providing
The army issued a statement saying that they will protect
government buildings and strategic installations lie the Suez
Egyptians from Port Said were seen atop army tanks celebrating the
army's return to the scene with the troops.
Clashes between police and
rioters protesting against the Muslim Brotherhood regime had been going on over
the past two weeks that stopped over the weekend. Currently not even traffic
police are visible in several cities.
Abdallah Mash-hoor of the Muslim
Brotherhood told The Media Line that the police have not been cooperating for
the past two weeks and refuse to carry out Muslim Brotherhood government orders.
"They just don't want to work with the Muslim Brotherhood," he said.
policemen demanded the interior minister resign, another sign they are refusing
to collaborate with the regime. "We don't want to be the stick for the ones in
charge, we don't want to be a tool for the government to achieve its political
objectives," said one police officer who asked to remain
Meanwhile, the Egyptian Sunni Islamist movement Al Jamaa Al
Islamiya (the Islamic Group) branch in Assuit issued a statement announcing its
readiness to take over police activities and maintain security there instead of
the striking policemen. "The Jamaa Islamiya in Assuit announces its willingness
to take full responsibility to secure the city in response to the police
strike," the statement said.
The organization was considered a terrorist
group before the January 25th revolution. After toppling the regime of Hosni
Mubarak, and under the Muslim Brotherhood regime, the Islamic Group formed a
political party and is now considered a legitimate group representing a sector
in Egyptian society.
An informed Muslim Brotherhood source told The Media
Line that the security forces and the Muslim Brotherhood are discussing an
option of bringing civilian groups in to replace the police in securing the
cities. When police were absent from the street during the first week of the
January 25 revolution, civilians took matters into their own hands and created
civilians groups and armed themselves to protect their
While Egyptian police have dissociated themselves from the
Morsi regime and defied orders issued over the past 24 hours to deal with the
rioters, their withdrawal from the streets will see an increase in the crime
rate, said Mohamed Gaafar, operations officer for Alex Private, a private
limousine company in Alexandria. "I had one of my cars get hijacked with a
client in it the other day and I had to pay $3,000 to get the car and the client
back," he told The Media Line. He also added his surprise that there are no
traffic jams in the streets despite the absence of the traffic
Morsi's regime has taken several steps recently to calm the angry
protesters. Al-Ahram online reported that Egypt's Administrative Court last week
overturned a decree by Morsi that set an April 22 date for parliamentary
elections. The court decided that the decree must be reviewed by the
Constitutional Court as to its constitutionality.
The move to bring the
military back to the streets is intended to reduce the clashes between the
police and civilian protesters, and is in response to the rioters' calls for the
army to return to the scene and govern Egypt.
For more stories from The Media Line go to www.themedialine.org