- Middle East/North Africa
The Construction and Development Party, Jama’a al-Islamiya’s political arm, called on all political parties Sunday to find ways to use popular committees to restore security, which police have been unable to do, rather than asking the army to fulfill that task.
The party said in a statement Sunday that it does not want the army to be involved in this matter so as not to repeat developments that have taken place in Libya and Syria.
Popular committees formed during the 25 January revolution when police withdrew from the streets. Islamists again formed popular committees when 60 police departments and 34 Central Security Forces camps went on strike earlier this month.
The Jama’a al-Islamiya had organized a demonstration with motorcycles Wednesday to condemn the violence that took place in Port Said, a city still experiencing instability after clashes between police and demonstrators that left 48 people dead, and forced police to withdraw and hand over the city’s security to the military.
But activists considered the demonstration a declaration that the group has militias ready to replace the police at any time, especially because the group’s statement coincided with the Salafi “Hazemoun” movement — supporters of former presidential hopeful Hazem Salah Abu Ismail — saying it was willing to take up arms if police fail to secure the country, and with prosecutors talking about citizens’ arrest rights.
Jama’a al-Islamiya leaders had been convicted in the 1990s of terrorism and killing tourists as well as Egyptians. But while in prison, they said they revoked their beliefs that had allowed the killing of anyone not applying Sharia.
The group’s statement said popular committees must operate within the law and the Shura Council’s consent, be formed from all spectrums of the Egyptian people as opposed to a single faction, and be controlled by regulations to help police without committing excesses.
The statement ended by saying this call is obligatory for all political groups if they want to safeguard the country’s interests.