The scene in Egypt looks grim. More than eight months have passed since Jan. 25, when the sparks of revolution finally brought Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule to an end. Yet we have witnessed no real policy changes from the provisional Military Council.
The postrevolution era is marked by as much—if not more—brutality as faced the Egyptians during Mubarak’s reign as witnessed by the dozens of Copts killed in recent clashes. The censorship of journalists, bloggers, newspapers, and other publications continues.
It seems that the confiscation of journalistic work has become a defining characteristic of the postrevolution era.
Worse, nothing suggests that the Military Council will surrender its authority to an elected civilian president in the near future, despite their statements to the contrary. An addiciton to power has taken hold, especially in the mind of Marshal Tantawi, the head of the Military Council, who was recently spotted wandering the streets of Cairo in civilian clothes attempting to market himself as more than just Egypt’s transitional leader.
Instead of winning Egyptian’s affections, Tantawi quickly became the subject of ridicule on Facebook and Twitter. Certainly some have come out in favor of the Military Council—but they are likely under direct instruction from those currently in power. Now they are calling for Tantawi's nomination in the upcoming presidential election. The vicious cycle of unconstitutional power grabs that began in the wake of the 1952 coup continues.
The revolution is in danger of being negated, if it has not already happened.Those who trusted the Army now regret it. They regret chanting slogans like: “The Army and the people are of one hand!” Even the Islamists, who thought that the Army would support them in their desire to make Egypt the center of the caliphate, now see the error of their ways. All those who supported the military have realized they were nothing more than pawns in a game against the liberals and leftists in the country. The council, which promised to surrender authority after six months, has gone back on its word. All of the rival political forces have no choice now but to unify themselves against the Military Council.
And so we must continue to go to Tahrir Square. This is our only choice, since the Military Council’s actions continue to incite public outrage. Their recent actions remind us of life during the decades following the July 1952 coup. They suggest that they intend to maintain rule over the country, even hinting at this when they considered whether Tantawi should rule for a “transitional” period of four years.
When he became president, Mubarak said the same thing—that he would rule for only one presidential term. But as we know, this was not the case.Not long ago, regime officials testified before the Cairo Criminal Court accusing Mubarak, his two children, and other members of his regime of killing protesters. Now Tantawi is following in their footsteps.
The military has reactivated the emergency status, denied the press its freedoms, and tortured civilians. Its hands are stained with the blood of those who have been killed in the months that have followed. The regime has arrested activists, tried them before a military court, and imprisoned them under the false accusation that they are “thugs.” Moreover, the regime applied a mandatory virginity test for all the women inside the military prison, later confessing to it openly. The regime arrested a blogger, Maikel Nabil, because of his writings and sent him to a military court that sentenced him to three years in prison. Now he might die there after enduring a month-and-a-half-long hunger strike.
The question should be be asked: what more must the Military Council do to convince us that it is attempting to monopolize power?