Egypt makes 'random' arrests after Israel embassy attack

Egyptian rights groups accuse Egyptian authorities of returning to ways of ousted president, calls government response to attack "hysterical."

By REUTERS
September 19, 2011 17:46
1 minute read.
Egyptian protesters burn an Israeli flag.

egyptian protesters israeli embassy_311. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany)

 
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CAIRO - Egyptian rights groups have accused Egyptian authorities of carrying out random arrests after this month's attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo, citing it as another example of a return to the ways of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Security forces detained around 200 people after Egyptians took part in a protest on Sep. 9 at the embassy. The protesters stormed the embassy building and clashed with police. Three people died and more than 1,000 were injured.

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Those in custody could be tried in special security courts under emergency laws still in place after Mubarak's ouster.

Rights officials said many of those arrested were bystanders or passersby in the residential district, which is near Cairo University and Giza Zoo. The arrests have stoked fears of a return to tough tactics police used under Mubarak.

"We are getting reports that many of those detained were not related to the attacks and just happened to be in the area at that time," said Gamal Eid, head of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, describing the government response as "hysterical".

"Security officials during Mubarak's time simply used to detain every one who was around and now the same thing has happened in the attacks on the Israeli embassy," Eid said.

Heavy handed security policies are widely seen as one of the factors that led to the mass protests that forced Mubarak from office in February. A military council then took control and appointed a government to steer the country towards elections.

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A security source denied any random arrests, saying: "The police and military police have only arrested those who were causing destruction at the embassy." A prosecution source said investigations were ongoing and no one had been sent to court.

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