Friday, November 18, 2011

Egyptians Again Take To Streets To Protest Military Regime

After the military helped depose the regime of Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians warily wondered whether the new military regime would cede power back to the people.

Well, it appears that the military leaders aren't so willing to give up the power they promised would be turned over to the Egyptian people. But those looking for a democratic government are finding that the Muslim Brotherhood is pushing their own agenda as well, and liberal groups are staying away from the new protests:
Although the demonstration was originally called by liberal activists, most stayed away after it became clear that the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist political parties would dominate the day. The Brotherhood, Egypt’s best organized political force, asked its members to show up as early as Thursday night to begin camping out in the square, the epicenter of the Arab Spring movement.

Tahrir's center was crowded by 11 p.m. Thursday and by morning Friday it was as packed it had been in the heady days of the revolution that toppled Mr. Mubarak last February. Buses that carried in Islamists from outside Cairo were parked nearby.

The spark for the Islamists’ protests was a recent set of declarations issued by the military-led government as ground rules for the drafting of a new constitution. Many of its provisions sought to enshrine protections of individual liberties and minority rights that liberals have sought, but two other provisions granted the military a long-term political role as guardians of the civil character of the state as well as protection from civilian scrutiny of its budget and veto power over certain foreign policy decisions.

Many of the Islamists who turned out denounced the military rules for attempting to put themselves above the reach of future civilian authorities. They rebuked the military for repeatedly delaying its handover over power, initially promised by September and now scheduled for 2013 or later. Many chanted calls for the overthrew of the ruling military council or the exit of its leader, Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. “We will step over you with a shoe!,” some chanted.

Some said they supported the protections of civil liberties in the document but that they should come from the people, while many others argued that the future Egyptian government should be free to implement its version of Islamic law without any constraints.

Liberals who elected to stay away have said in recent days that they believed the debate over the constitutional declaration only served to further deepen divisions in the electorate over the role of Islam in Egyptian public life and as a result benefited the well-organized Islamists.

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