Egypt Table of Contents
About 300,000 members of the paramilitary Central Security Forces (CSF) augmented the police force. The CSF was responsible for guarding public buildings, hotels, strategic sites (such as water and power installations), and foreign embassies. They also helped direct traffic and control crowds. Formed in 1977 to obviate the need to call upon the armed forces to deal with domestic disturbances, the CSF grew rapidly to 100,000 members when Mubarak took office. The government had hoped that the CSF would counterbalance the military's power, but the force never served this function. Poorly educated conscripts from rural areas who failed to meet the standards for army service filled the ranks of the CSF. Officers often treated the conscripts harshly and frequently humiliated them. Conscripts commonly lived in tents and sometimes lacked beds, adequate plumbing, and electricity.
The Central Security Forces rioted in 1986 when a rumor spread that their term of service would be extended from three years to four years. They set hotels and nightclubs on fire in the tourist areas of Cairo and near the pyramids at Giza (Al Jizah) and destroyed automobiles. Army units restored order after the rioting had gone on for four days and had spread to other cities. When the uprising ended, hundreds of people were dead or wounded, and about 8,000 CSF conscripts were missing. The CSF as a result dismissed more than 20,000 conscripts.
The minister of interior subsequently promised a series of reforms in the CSF, including a reduction in the number of people to be drafted into the force. He also promised to raise training standards, improve health care, and eliminate illiteracy. He doubled conscripts' wages (which had been lower than the wages of army conscripts) to ŁE12 a month. Nevertheless, as of 1987, living conditions appeared to have improved only marginally and the size of the force decreased by only 10 percent. The government continued to use the CSF as the main force for dealing with student disturbances, intimidating industrial strikers and peasant demonstrators, and curbing gatherings of Islamic activists.
Data as of December 1990