Violence from Above, Violence from Below: The State and Policing Citizens in Mubarak’s Egypt

  • Dina RashedEmail author
Part of the Staat – Souveränität – Nation book series (SSN)


While observers and analysts list multiple sources as the root causes of the Egyptian uprising, it is beyond doubt that the mass protests were triggered by the violent practices of Ministry of Interior’s security apparatus. This chapter examines the different forms of police violence, probing the conditions that facilitated their production and development. I argue against a mono-causal analysis that attributes police violence to dynamics of autocratic rule, as this lens fails to capture repertoires of violence that characterized the last two decades of Mubarak’s rule. Instead, I put forth a more complex story that identifies authoritarian policies as well as institutional inequalities in the age of neoliberal economic policies at the heart of state violence. I argue that two levels of police repression existed: repression from above and repression from below. While the first form of state violence was directed against political opposition, the second form of police repression was directed at non-politicized residents of impoverished areas. These two levels of violence are distinct, but related. Violence from below was caused by the unequal distribution of state resources that favored high-ranking state agents over low-ranking and noncommissioned officers during times of declining state capacity and neoliberal economic shifts. At the same time, the regime’s sanctioning of repressive measures against political opposition provided a nurturing environment for low level violence to grow. I adopt an inter-disciplinary approach, putting into conversation understandings of political repression, policing and organizational behavior to explain forms of police violence in Egypt.


Police Officer Police Force State Violence Police Violence Shanty Town 
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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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