Egypt Resurrects the Police State

Revives secret police, gives military more power

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 30, 2013 8:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – Ending Egypt's brutal police state was a major reason behind the country's 2011 revolution, but as violence on the streets continues, the country now seems to be returning back to that very era. The interim government has just revived two policies emblematic of the widely hated pre-Morsi regime: a law that allows soldiers to arrest civilians, and the resurrection of the country's secret police unit, reports the Wall Street Journal. "It's a return to the Mubarak era," says an Egyptian human rights activist, per the Guardian. "These units committed the most atrocious human rights violations. Incommunicado detentions, killings outside the law. ... It's an ugly authority that has never been brought to justice."

The feared state security service, Mabahith Amn ad-Dawla, was supposedly closed in 2011 and replaced by the national security service. But following a government crackdown on protesters on the weekend which left dozens of pro-Morsi supporters dead, the government announced its return, the Guardian reports. However, some say these secret police never really went away—the current civil unrest just allows leaders to give their image a makeover. "The only thing that happened was that they changed the name," says an Egyptian security researcher. "[The interior minister is] trying to use a situation where the factors on the ground make it easier to re-legitimize these units and police practices." Meanwhile, deposed president Mohamed Morsi met in secret with an EU envoy last night.

An Egyptian riot policeman fires tear gas towards pro-Morsi supporters during clashes in downtown Cairo, Egypt.
An Egyptian riot policeman fires tear gas towards pro-Morsi supporters during clashes in downtown Cairo, Egypt.   (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
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