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Mon Jul 29, 2013, 11:33 PM

In Egypt, Security State Is Resurrected After Provoking Fear In 2011 Revolution

By Michael Birnbaum, Updated: Monday, July 29, 9:12 PM

CAIRO — The brutality of Egypt’s once-feared security state helped spark Egypt’s 2011 revolution. Now those security forces are swinging back into action, and this time they are being hailed as heroes by many of the secular activists and liberals who once campaigned against them.

The reversal started when police in crisp white uniforms joined the successful effort to oust President Mohamed Morsi four weeks ago, drawing cheers from crowds. Since then, police officers who were chased off the streets after the 2011 revolution have been back in force. Meanwhile, the interim government has restored the mandate of the domestic counterterrorism agency to scrutinize religious and “extremist” activity. Those powers were stripped after the revolution because they were widely interpreted as justifying the torture of Islamists and other government opponents.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Morsi, called on its supporters Monday to protest the revived power of the security forces by demonstrating in front of Interior Ministry offices around the country, raising fears of further violence after police and their plainclothes allies killed at least 80 Morsi supporters Saturday.

Egyptian authorities detained two leaders of the moderate Islamist al-Wasat party on Monday, in an apparent broadening of a crackdown on Islamist political activity. The arrests occurred even as the Obama administration condemned the violence and called for Catherine Ashton, a top European Union official visiting Cairo, to be granted access to Morsi. He has been held incommunicado since the Egyptian army deposed him on July 3.

In a striking sign of the widening split in Egyptian society, many of the liberal and secular groups that revolted in 2011 are welcoming the resurrection of the forces they had once joined the Islamists in condemning.


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