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Egypt's Police Speak Out, Rejecting Role as 'Tool of Oppression'

Facing criticism of excessive force and fear of public backlash, hundreds of officers protest

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Police preparing to take on demonstrators during a rally January 30 in Cairo. (Photo: Khalil Hamra)

Hundreds of Egypt's police, who are often seen on the front lines sparring with anti-government protestors, are demonstrating across the country Tuesday declaring they no longer want to be "used as a tool for political oppression" in the ongoing clashes between civilian activists and government forces.

Egypt's police force is being charged with using excessive force against demonstrators during this latest wave of protests against President Mohamed Morsi, which were sparked early last week by the death of a pro-democracy activist while in police custody. 

"Activists are furious that no one has been held accountable for the deaths of dozens of protesters in past months in clashes with police," Al Arabiya writes.

In response to that charge, hundreds of low-ranking policemen protested across Egypt Tuesday. The Associated Press reports:

Dozens of policemen rallied Tuesday outside local security administration headquarters in at least 10 provinces. Some of them carried signs reading, "we are innocent of the blood of the martyrs."

Although small, the protests marked a rare instance of dissent by Egypt's police force. The rallies reflect fears among many policemen of a public backlash after weeks of violent crackdowns on anti-government protests.

According to Al Jazeera, just yesterday police turned tear gas and water canons against demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square who had gathered to mark the second anniversary of Hosni Mubarak's overthrow.

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