Tension runs high in Egypt

Egypt’s military authorities and a large selection of pro-democracy protests are now openly confronting each other, unable to reconcile the differences five months after an uprising that brought down the former President, Hosni Mubarak. Mistrustful of the military as the agency to lead the transition to democracy, a wide segment of young protesters, drawing people from a variety of ideological streams, are unwilling to give up their agitation. Consequently, Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the icon of the pro-democracy movement, continues to draw protesters even after Mr. Mubarak’s exit on February 11.

The lack of progress on prosecuting Mr. Mubarak and his two sons, the detention of several protesters and their opaque trials in military courts, and the inability of the authorities to match up to the aspirations of the working class, have become interlocking factors that have been kept the protests alive. Over the weekend, the gloves were finally off. The military, represented by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), accused the April 6 youth movement – a front line group which pioneered disciplined non-violent agitation against Mr.Mubarak – of poisoning people’s mind against the armed forces.

On last Saturday, scores were injured when protesters in their thousands marched on the Defence Ministry calling for reforms, accompanied by slogans against SCAF head Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. The military authorities have also trained their guns on the “Kifaya” or the “Enough” movement, which has been accused of foisting a foreign agenda. The Kifaya movement, which surfaced in 2004, was first to publicly denounce Mr. Mubarak for having dynastic aspirations, saying he was trying to elevate his own son Gamal to the presidency.

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