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The Middle East, explained

Egypt: Would moving the interior ministry halt the violence?

A parliamentary commission recommends moving Egypt's interior ministry building following clashes in central Cairo.
Egypt tahrir interior ministry violenceEnlarge
An Egyptian parliamentary committee suggested moving the country's interior ministry to another location to help prevent clashes in downtown Cairo, near Tahrir Square. (MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

A parliamentary commission established to investigate recent clashes between protestors and police in downtown Cairo suggested today that Egypt's interior ministry building be moved from its location in the center of the capital. 

But would that halt the violence? 

The Ministry of Interior is a mammoth, pink-colored complex in the heart of Cairo, just blocks from the iconic Tahrir Square.

It has long been a target of the protestors that led the uprising against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his police state a year ago, and its adjacent streets have seen pitched battles between demonstrators and riot police in anti-government protests since Nov. 2011.

While many activists charge police have not been rightly punished for cracking down violently and killing protestors in the year since the revolt -- and the newly-established parliament is slow to assert control -- central Cairo's cramped streets are home to thousands of stores and market stalls owned by war-weary shopowners caught in the cross-fire.

While downtown businesses are notorious for reopening following clashes -- or even remaining open while police and activists fight -- this latest round of violence that kicked-off on Friday has the left the area particularly damaged. 

More from GlobalPost: Cairo clashes leave downtown streets in rubble

Storefronts are smashed and many shops are looted. Residents and local merchants are left to pick up the pieces. 

Given the rage felt by many Egyptians -- and particularly youth -- toward the unreformed and often brutal police corps, simply moving the interior ministry is unlikely to appease calls from anti-government demonstrators for justice and radical restructuring of security forces.

But when demonstrators mobilize for protests in Tahrir Square, the focal point for political dissent, the marches will be less likely to spill out into the battered streets of downtown Cairo. 

Moving the ministry may simply hoist the unrest to another part of the city. 

Any takers?

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/the-middle-east/cairo-clashes-tahrir-interior-ministry-police

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