CAIRO — After months of battling with angry young protesters, many in Egypt's police forces say they have had enough.
Strikes and protests spread around the country Friday by police units frustrated with being blamed for deadly crackdowns on protesters and accusing Islamist President Mohammed Morsi of using them to fight his enemies. In at least 10 of the country's 29 provinces, some units sealed their stations with chains, some calling for the removal of their boss, the interior minister, appointed by Morsi.
In past days, angry riot police locked their top commander in their camp for hours. Others refused to be deployed in clashes with street protesters in Nile Delta cities. Police disobeyed orders to secure Morsi's motorcade route from his palace to his home in eastern Cairo, to guard his family home in the Delta, or to guard the headquarters of his Muslim Brotherhood in the capital.
The wave of police discontent adds a new layer to Egypt's turmoil and sense of breakdown in state institutions. In a sign of the possible repercussions of the disarray, a hardline Islamist group announced its members would take up policing duties in the southern province of Assiut because of strikes by local security forces.