“It goes beyond the Islamist-secular divide to something much bigger,” she said. “I don’t like using the word ‘counterrevolution,’ but the police feel they’ve been vindicated, and they have been able to use the last few months to put themselves in a position of power again.”
In 2011, the police and state security forces defended Mubarak, the long-ruling autocrat, and the military ultimately did not. Many of the investigations in the aftermath of the 18-day uprising focused on police violence against revolutionaries. Police officers known for their swagger under Mubarak became a subdued presence on the streets, declining even to enforce traffic laws. The top leadership of State Security was dismissed, and the force was given a new name, National Security.
But on Saturday, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim suggested that the reshuffle might have been a mistake.
“You cannot have security in a country without political security,” Ibrahim said at a news conference, blaming some of Egypt’s turmoil on the abolition of departments in the domestic counterterrorism agency that monitored religious and extremist groups. Ibrahim said he was reinstating some officers who had been dismissed and had “started rebuilding” the departments.
He said that he would soon move to clear away large Muslim Brotherhood-led sit-ins that have been taking place in Cairo since Morsi’s departure.
The Obama administration on Monday urged Egypt’s interim leaders to refrain from using violence. It again declined to label the removal of Morsi a “coup,” a characterization that could force a halt to the $1.5 billion that the United States sends Egypt every year, much of it military aid.
“The United States strongly condemns the bloodshed and violence in Cairo and Alexandria over the weekend,” White House deputy spokesman Josh Earnest said. “Egyptian authorities have a moral and legal obligation to respect the right of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.”
Inside the vast, fortified state security headquarters, which was burned and ransacked by protesters in the chaotic weeks after Mubarak was forced from power in February 2011, security officers said Monday that they welcomed the changed attitudes. Human rights groups and critics have said that some of the Mubarak era’s worst torture took place inside the compound.
In a drab, windowless reception room inside the compound, three security officers in plainclothes said that they had simply been misunderstood after the revolution.
“People say that this place is only for torture,” one officer said. “This is not going to be a place of torture. We are here just to collect information and to combat terrorism. That’s it.”
Sharaf al-Hourani contributed to this report.