Last month, CCAS Assistant Professor Dr. Samer Shehata participated in the ezine Jadaliyya’s electronic roundtable, titled “Authoritarianism Without Autocrats?” Dr. Shehata focused his piece on reforming the Egyptian security state as a first step toward “establish[ing] a democratic society based on the rule of law.” He reminded readers that the Ministry of the Interior, which headed—and continues to head—Egypt’s security apparatus, now known as the National Security Office (NSO), “was the heavy, repressive boot of the Mubarak regime against the throat of the Egyptian people…and its primary job…was to ensure regime survival.”
According to Dr. Shehata, security reform involves more than holding perpetrators of state violence accountable. Profound restructuring that affects the daily procedures and operations of the Ministry of Interior and its partners must take place. He wrote, “The entire [Ministry of Interior] must be overhauled…The organization’s ethos must be transformed into one that reflects a deep respect for the rule of law, the dignity of citizens, due process, accountability, and human rights.”
Restructuring the security state should take precedence over holding elections or writing the constitution, though it may prove to be the most difficult task of the three, according to Dr. Shehata. Changes made thus far by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces have fallen short of protestor demands, and have not addressed the systemic nature of the problematic role of the security state in Egyptian society.