Back to Tahrir Square
Protesters at Tahrir Square helped lead the overthrow of Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak. He was deposed by the military that lost confidence in their former leader.
The crowd was as large as almost any that gathered in Tahrir Square since the protests that forced out former President Hosni Mubarak in February, 2011. Even more unusual in the increasingly polarized political climate, Islamists, liberals and leftists all found common ground on at least one front: to demand the generals who took power with Mr. Mubarak’s ouster finally give it up.
The catalysts for the protest were the military-led government’s management of the early stages of the election and in particular the selection of the candidates. In the last two weeks, Mr. Mubarak’s former spy chief, Omar Suleiman, launched a short-lived campaign from inside the office of the intelligence services that triggered fears of a plot to restore the ousted order. In that same period, a secretive commission of Mubarak-appointed judges unexpectedly ruled that Mr. Suleiman and two Islamists considered front-runners for president were ineligible to run. And the top military leader suggested that a new constitution should be written and ratified before a handover of power, meaning the military leaders would control that process, too.
‘The military council is putting the people in a very hard situation, and people are angry because their demands have not come true,’ said Mohamed Hedaya, 19, a student from the countryside who wears the wispy beard of an ultra-conservative Salafi Muslim, and was out in the streets for the protest.
‘People feel like the old regime has not gone anywhere, and under the army we are living with them still.’
Protesters from liberal groups and Islamist movements marched to Tahrir from landmarks across the capital, while others from the provinces beyond arrived in a fleet of chartered buses. Egyptian flags competed for space with the Muslim Brotherhood’s green flag and the black flags of the ultra-conservative Salafi movement, while a handful of kites in the national colors of red, white and black bobbed in the sky overhead.
‘The people will not accept a rigged election,’ declared one banner.
The military has rejected several leading candidates for the presidency, and the military has further suggested that they be the ones to write and ratify a constitution before any change in political power, but that move only smacks of trying to continue and formalize control in a new ruling elite that comes from the military.
Considering that some of the remaining candidates are former members of the anciens regime, Egyptians aren’t looking too kindly upon the situation.
History does seem to be repeating itself. After all, it was a military coup that led to the rise of Gamel Abdel Nasser in 1956 until his death in 1970, when he was succeeded by Anwar Sadat. Following Sadat’s assassination at the hands of terrorists associated with Egyptian Islamic Jihad (including spiritual leader Sheikh Abdel Rahman who was later involved in the 1993 WTC bombing), his vice president, Hosni Mubarak was selected to run the country.
Now, the military is hoping to be the one to select the next generation of Egyptian leadership.
It’s little surprise that there’s agreement among and across the political spectrum that the military has to give up its hold on power. That was one of the longstanding complaints about Mubarak and the old regime. Now, that the military is firmly in control, they’re not about to give up the power and they’re going to quickly find out that the goodwill they gained from refusing to take Mubarak’s orders to disperse the crowds of protesters by armed force will disappear.