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Deterioration of Police-Government Relations after January 25

From the perspective of observers and employees of the MoI, just as police often fabricated charges against innocent citizens, the revolutionaries also accused the police of crimes it did not commit. For example, the bombing of Alexandria’s Al- Qiddisayn (Two Saints) Church in December 2011 was falsely blamed on a special unit within the MoI.49 Despite falsified evidence, this accusation gained currency among various political movements and media outlets trying to hold the MoI responsible for its past mistakes and violations. Again, the view from within the MoI was that honest police officers were at times charged with crimes they did not commit and that, moreover, military authorities would appease revolutionary forces by willingly forsaking police legitimacy. This loss of police legitimacy was exacerbated by continued nonenforcement of court rulings against convicted persons with ties to the Mubarak regime.

The situation did not change under the rule of the scaf, as a lack of training and modern policing techniques resulted in accidents such as the Port Said Stadium massacre,50 in which seventy-two people were killed and police forces were blamed. While it was the police’s responsibility to secure the event, the lack of necessary modern policing tools and methods, combined with a lack of accountability on the part of police leadership, worsened the situation.

Under the mb, police grew disenchanted and angry when, on multiple occasions, information available to security services regarding the presence of terrorists was ignored and President Mohammed Morsi restrained MoI officials from taking action. Allegedly, the mb released jihadist prisoners, granting them Egyptian nationality as per President Morsi’s orders. This endangered Egyptian national security and entrenched the breech of the rule of law under the mb government,51 exacerbating the tense relationship between the police force and the government.

Furthermore, the executive branch did not pay attention to police reform. Rather, the president focused on securing police loyalty to himself and the regime, even at the cost of continuing malpractice. In fact, Morsi appeared to give both the police and the MoI a green light to commit abuses in exchange for ensuring the security and stability of the regime, as was done during Mubarak’s era.52 Unfortunately, after the popular coup, widely supported by the majority of Egyptians, removed Morsi, the police did not change their practices, nor did they adopt modern policing techniques.

The new equation of power changed in favor of the police, as most non- Islamist citizens supported the police forces and the new regime rather than the mb. As a result, mb members occupied Rabaa and Nahda Squares in Cairo, initiating a peaceful protest. Things degenerated when roads were blocked, preventing pedestrians and locals from accessing their homes and businesses. Eventually a political decision was made to disperse the gathering: demonstrators were given time to leave and provided safe passage.53 The choice to employ harsh tactics to quell the violence and the massive citizen death toll that resulted perpetuated a vicious cycle of violence. The mb responded with violence and terrorist attacks on police, judges, and state officials, eventually reaching ordinary people as they moved on to target utility facilities, hospitals, and transportation stations. The police now had justification for an even more brutal crackdown on dissent and civil rights.

Egyptians turned their hatred toward the mb and acquiesced to these violations, seeing them as an emergency measure to combat terrorism. In addition, with the wide public support of President Abdul Fatah el-Sisi and his regime, and the absence of the parliament as a legislative check on his power, the president took the opportunity to issue laws that gave the police a free hand in fighting terrorism. The El-Nadeem Center for Human Rights reported forty-eight deaths as a result of medical negligence in prisons in 2014 and 2015, as well as 289 cases of torture, and twenty-seven cases of group torture.54 Finally, some officers viewed this war against terror as a justification to exact revenge for the 2011 uprising. Few acts of brutality and rights violations connected to the ruling regime were reported in state-controlled or private, state-connected media.

 
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