Egypt’s interior minister indicated on Monday that a curfew and state of emergency that has been in place for the past three months will expire Thursday as scheduled, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
Minister Mohammed Ibrahim reportedly said that security reinforcements will be deployed as a preventive measure in the face of protests by the supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi.
The curfew and emergency laws have been a key tool in authorities’ crackdown on the mainly Islamist supporters of Morsi, who was toppled by the military on July 3.
In September, Egypt extended it by two months, raising the ire of the United States, which urged Egypt to lift the state of emergency and pressed it "to create an atmosphere where Egyptians on all sides can peacefully exercise their right to freedom of assembly and expression."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry last week urged Egypt's interim rulers not to extend the state of emergency when it ends this week, saying that “the crackdown that was underway was inappropriate and inclusivity required that there be an outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood and others.”
On Monday Ibrahim, who is in charge of police, told the state news agency that “once the curfew and state of emergency end on November 14,” security forces will be deployed to main streets and city centers across the country to “to tighten control and instill a feeling of confidence and security in citizens.”
Over the past months, Egypt has been hit by a spiral of violence. Suspected Islamist supporters of Morsi have torched dozens of churches and police stations in retaliation. Ibrahim himself survived an assassination attempt by a suicide car bomber.
The curfew has run from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. six days a week. It began at 7 p.m. on Fridays, a day when Morsi supporters traditionally attempt larger protests.
In an attempt to empower security forces, the military-backed interim government is
The anticipated lifting of the curfew and state of emergency comes head of demonstrations planned on November 19 by both Morsi supporters and opponents, raising concerns of new violence, according to AP.
Ibrahim warned Islamists against using the day to “spread chaos in the streets,” saying “security forces have taken all measures to deal with the demonstrations.”
Lifting the emergency law and curfew is seen as a positive step toward return to normalcy, and stabilization needed for economic recovery after nearly three years of turmoil has hit the economy hard.