Egypt’s interior minister, who presided over a police force and other security agencies that have often been accused of brutality and rights violations, lost his job in a Cabinet shuffle on Thursday.But President Abdel Fattah Sisi’s removal of Mohammed Ibrahim did not appear to signal any easing of a 20-month-old crackdown on political opponents. Ibrahim was replaced by police Gen. Magdy Abdel Ghafar, who is a leading figure in the security apparatus.
Ibrahim’s ouster followed a string of small bomb attacks in recent weeks, which have caused some fatalities and caused property damage to commercial targets, including mobile-phone stores. While small in scale, the attacks are seen as potentially damaging to Egypt’s appeal before a major investment conference this month.
Ibrahim also came under criticism for an episode last month in which 20 soccer fans died in a stampede after police used tear gas to keep them from entering a stadium.
During Ibrahim’s tenure, the security agencies and the police carried out a wide-ranging crackdown on opponents of the government – most of them Islamist supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi, but also including some well-known secular activists who helped spearhead Egypt’s 2011 uprising against dictator Hosni Mubarak.