Popular Committees (Egypt)

Country: Egypt
Details of Formation: Local communities formed decentralized popular committees that operated as neighborhood watches. In 2013 the military government started to align with these local groups to quell the Muslim Brotherhood. During this time, they were mobilized by the Tamarod, an opposition movement against former president Morsi. (Human Rights Watch 2011)
Details of Termination: The Popular Committees were banned by the Interior Ministry in order to prevent further clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents.
Purpose: The militia was a pro-government group that attacked alleged supporters of the Brotherhood. They were mobilized by the Tamarod group, which was leading the anti-government protests that resulted in Mursi’s ousting.
Organisation: The Popular Committees carried out joint operations with the Egyptian military and police. However, there is no information on specific command structures as the militia was created locally without a clear leadership.
Weapons and Training: In addition to sticks and metal rods, the militiamen were also armed with firearms. There is no information on whether the group received training.
Size: No information.
Reason for Membership: When the local popular committees were set up in 2011, neighbors were interested in protecting their houses and neighborhoods. But there is no information on how the reasons for membership developed after the government aligned with the militia to curb opposition. (Human Rights Watch 2011)
Treatment of Civilians: There were several violent incidents when the Popular Committees clashed with pro-Mursi protesters. Together with the police, they used gunfire and other weapons to shoot protesters and curb uprisings. The militia’s behavior has led to a high number of deaths among civilians.
Other Information: The exact link to the government is unclear but the relationship was rather loose. Only refers to the group which is active after Morsi’s overthrow, as the name “popular committees” is also used in other contexts e.g. during uprising against Mubarak in February 2011.
References: Human Rights Watch. 2011. “Egypt: Trying for Peace in Climate of Chaos, Violence”. https://www.hrw.org/print/241741

Human Rights Watch. 2013. “Meet the Hatchet Men of Cairo”. https://www.hrw.org/news/2013/08/21/meet-hatchet-men-cairo

Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD.