by Mahmoud Fouly
CAIRO, March 10 (Xinhua) -- Egyptian police in various governorates nationwide went on strike over the past few days, complaining recurrent bloody confrontations with anti-government protesters, rioters and sometimes outlaws when they are only allowed to use teargas bombs and water cannons in dealing with troublemakers.
Over 50 police stations across the country closed their gates and central security forces assigned with facing rioters went on strike in different governorates, demanding to sack the interior minister and to be equipped with necessary deterrent weapons to be able to deal with outlaws, thugs and rioters, protect the citizens and properties and maintain the country's security.
Some security experts believe that the protesting policemen have the right to go on strike as they cannot control the criminal acts committed during anti-government protests as some hired armed thugs and outlaws hidden among protesters to incite violence while the policemen are empty-handed against them.
"The policemen's strike is normal amid the current political chaos as criminals hide in protests and use guns and other weapons against security forces," security expert General Salah Samak told Xinhua, regretting what he described as "political cover" given by the opposition to the aggressions of troublemakers during protests.
Samak believes that the media and the opposition are responsible for "the criminal development" in the Egyptian streets and "the fierce criticism campaign" practiced against the police apparatus.
"The solution for the current security crisis starts with the media that should distinguish between criminals and protesters. In addition, the policemen must be provided by appropriate weapons to use to protect themselves and the citizens when necessary," Samak said when asked about a way out of the ongoing security issue.
As for the role of the armed force amid the current lack of security, the security expert told Xinhua that "the military has a simple role, which is securing the key public institutions," noting the armed forces would not be able to cope with outlaws, criminals and thugs as the police do.
Police officer Ahmed Ragab, former spokesman of policemen coalitions, said the police strike was partial not complete strike, supporting the strike amid "the political problems the police was dragged to while their main duty is to maintain security."
Ragab called for activating an article in a 1971 police law that allows "police gradual use of weapon" to deter outlaws and criminals, starting with water cannons, teargas bombs, cartridge bullets and finally live bullets when necessary.
The policeman and activist condemned Saturday's aggression of hundreds of those he described as "thugs" when they broke into a police club building with Molotov cocktails and caused panic to children and women in the club, stressing he supported the police strike and demanded the police be kept away from political conflicts.
However, other security experts refer the ongoing turmoil to "a conspiracy" mainly plotted by corrupt figures of the ousted regime who have been legally excluded from the country's political life.
"I believe the policemen who go on strike could be part of the conspiracy," General Abdel-Latif al-Bedaini, security expert and ex-assistant interior minister, told Xinhua.
Al-Bedaini recommended that the police system must be "refined" from the police chiefs who served under former regime interior minister Habib al-Adli, who is currently facing trial and could be part of the conspiracy against Egypt's security and stability.
"The interior ministry must be cleansed, the police system must be restructured and the policemen must be well-equipped with weapons or at least protection tools such as electric shock devices."
The former security official added that "if a policeman cannot protect himself he cannot protect the people," wondering how a disarmed policeman could confront and armed criminal. "This is very strange," he exclaimed.
He addressed the protesting policeman to go back to work as they have already conveyed their rightful demands.
"A policeman who withdraws from his duty is no less of a criminal than a soldier who deserts the battlefield," Al-Bedaini said.
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim on Sunday called on all political forces to get the police out of politics and keep the interior ministry out of the ongoing political conflict. "Leave us work for the sake of the security," he said.
Ibrahim's remarks came after bloody confrontations between police forces and anti-government protesters and rioters that killed two and injured 19 others on Saturday near the iconic Tahrir Square in Egypt's capital Cairo.