An audio recording broadcast by al-Jazeera is said to reveal Egypt’s interior minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, discussing the use of automatic weapons against protesters.
“Use all that is permitted under the law. I think you all understand and you all studied the law. Whatever is permitted by the law, use it without hesitation, any slight hesitation,” says the voice in the tape, “from water to the machine gun.”
According to al-Jazeera, the recording comes from a discussion of the ministry’s preparations for a day of mass demonstrations announced by Islamists in November 2014.
“I must handle them, disperse and arrest them, as it may be necessary to make them run away,” Ibrahim reportedly says in the tape. “Do not wait for 100 to swell into 1,000 or 2,000 or 3,000, then we are all helpless before them.”
Asked about the apparent leak, an official at the interior ministry in Cairo denied hearing about the issue.
The use of force to disperse demonstrations has become commonplace in Egypt since the 2011 uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak. Deaths in protests surged following the military’s removal of elected president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.