The Building and Development Party (BDP), Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya’s political wing, is expanding its “popular committees” to Egypt’s southernmost governorate, Aswan.
Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya announced the establishment of “popular committees” over three weeks ago. These committees will be responsible for resolving road blockages peacefully and preventing violent crime.
Khaled Ibrahim, deputy secretary of the BDP in Aswan, stated that the new initiative aims to help the security apparatus maintain stability and resolve security conflicts. He said the initiative intends to restore policemen’s status on the streets. The popular committees would act as customary councils tasked with resolving social problems.
“The committees’ job will not conflict with that of the police or substitute it,” Ibrahim said.
He denied that the committees would intervene in citizens’ freedoms or infringe upon their privacy. “We will not search passers-by or break into houses … Our goal is to maintain security and stability as well as face thugs and non-peaceful protests.”
Ibrahim said the initiative comes in response to the citizens’ demands for security. He added that the BDP committees will act as an intermediary between the citizens and the police.
On Tuesday, Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya members on motorbikes roamed the streets of Assiut promising to bring security to the governorate in the absence of the police. Police forces in Assiut have been on a partial strike for almost ten days protesting the Minister of Interior’s policies.
Ahmed Khanfour, head of the Al-Dostour Party’s Mass Action Committee in Assiut, stated that Assiut residents do not welcome Al-Jamaa’s initiative. He said that residents did not want them to play a role in governorate security because of their violent history.