CAIRO: Security forces implemented a tight security cordon on the roads leading into Central Sinai to thwart a press conference Sunday while the fallout from comments made by the North Sinai governor continued.
The press conference was called for by Tarabin Bedouin spokesman Moussa El-Dilh who had recently told Daily News Egypt that security raids on the area had angered many of the residents. Authorities are searching for wanted Bedouins in the area including Salem Abu Lafi, who escaped from detainment in February.
Shootouts had erupted last month between state forces and Bedouins after security raids on the town of Wadi Amr and surrounding areas in Central Sinai as security forces searched for wanted Bedouins. The raids angered residents, some of whom then locked down the road leading to Al-Oja crossing.
Meanwhile, the fallout continues from comments made by North Sinai governor Mourad Muwafi, who was reported in the press as saying that Bedouin tribal leaders were corrupt and took bribes.
North Sinai Tagammu party member Khalil Jabr Sawarkeh told Daily News Egypt, “Is this the talk of an appointed government official? It shows what the regime really thinks of us Bedouins, no wonder there is always trouble here.”
Journalist and MP Moustapha Bakri called for convening an immediate meeting of the parliament’s defense and national security committee to discuss Muwafi’s comments.
However, Muwafi later made more conciliatory comments that were released to the press, stressing the patriotism of Sinai’s Bedouins. He also spoke of their longstanding role in helping secure Egypt’s borders.
The governor added that it was wrong to view the situation in Sinai as a battle between security forces and the Bedouins, saying that it was merely a few wanted criminals that the state was after, indicating that those wanted Bedouins had committed crimes and needed to be brought to justice.
The Interior Ministry has recently been on a drive to placate Sinai’s Bedouins and began releasing detained Bedouins who were being held under the old emergency law, some since 2002. So far, almost 150 have been released.
Those released included Bedouin activists Mussad Abu Fagr and Yehia Abu Nusseirah. Abu Nusseirah had been detained since 2008. He was a founding member of the Karama (Dignity) political party in Sinai.