CAIRO: Fifteen Bedouin detainees were given release orders on Thursday and at press time were waiting to be discharged at the state security office in Al-Arish.
Those released belong to families which reside in cities, Bedouin spokesman Moussa El-Dilh told Daily News Egypt.
“The government is favoring those from the cities over people from the rural areas. This policy of discrimination will have negative repercussions,” said El-Dilh.
“Ever since the Ministry [of Interior] promised to release political and criminal detainees held in prisons, families of prisoners from the villages have gone to the Al-Arish state security office every day and waited for their families,” he added.
Recent shootouts in Sinai have escalated tension between locals and the Ministry of Interior. In June, two passersby were injured in a shootout at Al-Oja crossing.
Several meetings between both entities throughout the past weeks have attempted to calm tension but Bedouins claim their demands have not yet been fulfilled.
“The numbers of Bedouins detained are much higher than the promises we get from the government. Prisoners of conscience, such as Mossad Abu Fagr and Yehia Abu Nusseira, are still in custody,” El-Dilh said, maintaining that most Bedouin elders have lost faith in the ministry.
“This trust will not be regained overnight. We still have a lot of demands,” he continued.
Meanwhile, in a meeting last week, Minister of Interior Habib El-Adly said Bedouin detainees will be released in accordance with recent amendments to the emergency laws, which constrict their powers to charges relating to narcotics and terrorism. However, concern among Bedouins on whether political prisoners will also be released has continued.
In addition to the release of prisoners, Bedouins are calling for an ease on security presence in and around their villages.
“Some villages are still under siege,” said El-Dilh.
For years, Bedouins have complained of consistent harassment by police forces on their way in and out of Sinai, an area considered sensitive by the government for its proximity to Israel and Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip.
Earlier this week, a pledge by National Democratic Party MPs to mediate negotiations between the ministry and the disgruntled residents of the peninsula was rejected by the Bedouins as “too little, too late.”
“I don’t know why this has become an issue since what we are asking for are regular demands,” El-Dilh said.