CAIRO: Activists in Sinai are skeptical about a statement purported to be from the Bedouin tribes released Wednesday, which includes a list of demands made to the government, because the people behind it were unidentified.
The statement, signed off by “the sons of the tribes called for a protest in October if the demands were not met. The demands include the release of some 1,000 tribe members behind bars, the dropping of convictions in absentia and a stop to security incursions against Sinai Bedouins.
The statement also called for an end to harassment of Bedouin merchants carrying wares along the Suez Canal under the pretext of fighting smuggling and reducing the debt on Bedouin farmers.
Due to the unknown identity of the senders, and the lack of coordination with any known Sinai advocacy organization on the statement, activists in the area were skeptical about the intent behind it.
Tagammu party Secretary in Sheikh Zowayed and member of the Popular Committee for the Rights of the Citizen Mustapha Singer told Daily News Egypt Thursday that activists in Northern Sinai felt that the statement was a cover for personal interests of certain tribesmen who were connected to smuggling activities.
“Their interests are in trouble, so they want to make a preemptive stand and they are covering it with general demands which they don’t care about. They are not speaking in the names of the tribes but they are from them, he said, adding that “if the protest even happens, it will happen on a small scale or not at all.
Another activist in the area who asked for his name to be withheld told Daily News Egypt that the statement did not have much connection with the Bedouin tribes, though it was most likely sent by certain members of the Sawarkeh and Tarabin tribe who were involved in smuggling activities.
“They are using the statement for personal gain. No activists in Sinai were contacted about this statement, you cannot just write a piece of paper and then just disappear, he said.
Singer said that security raids had increased in the wake of the shooting of a high-ranking police officer in the city of Suez earlier this month by a drug dealer hailing from Al-Arish.
Ibrahim Abdel-Maboud, head of criminal investigations in Suez city, died after sustaining gunshot wounds while on the trail of the suspect. Two other officers who were with Abdel-Maboud, head of investigations at the Ataqa police station Ahmed Mohamed Fathi Al-Bahi and Suez criminal investigations officer Ahmed Yousri Abdel-Halim, were critically injured.
The policemen were on the trail of a suspected drug dealer by the name of Ahmed Eid, 26, after a tip off that he was in the Muthalath area of the city near the Suez Canal. Eid is wanted on three charges of drugs, possessing firearms without a license and firing at a police vehicle.
An interior ministry statement claimed that Eid fired on the approaching police force in their vehicles with a semi-automatic weapon that caused the injuries the officers sustained, and which later led to the death of Abdel-Maboud.