The high hopes of the Egyptian people for a peaceful transition to democracy are being thwarted by the brutal tactics of the country's military rulers, who in recent days have launched a bloody campaign of repression against protesters demanding an immediate turnover of power to an elected civilian government. The armed forces, once revered as guardians of the popular uprising that overthrew longtime dictator
Reports from the capital over the last few days have been horrific: Women stripped and dragged half naked through the streets by police in riot gear; civilians beaten, kicked and stomped by government thugs; thousands of men, women and children arrested and thrown into prison. Meanwhile, the military's top general denies his forces are playing any role in the violence and blames the unrest on foreign elements intent on destroying the state.
That's the "big lie" that is the signature art form of totalitarian despots: Tell a whopper, no matter how outrageous or absurd, then repeat it so often people simply tire of disbelieving it. Except in this case, the evidence pouring out of
This is not what the protesters who gathered in
Now it appears those hopes have been betrayed. The last thing Egyptians wanted to see was the replacement of Mr. Mubarak's dictatorship by a new tyranny of the generals.
Egypt is currently in the midst of parliamentary elections that are supposed to lead to presidential elections next year and the drafting of a constitution. Yet is far from clear how much pressure the moderately Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, whose Freedom and Justice party won the largest bloc of votes in the first round of balloting, or Egypt's weak secular and liberal parties will be able to exert to push the military even to stick to its announced timetable for ceding power to civilian elected leaders, let alone to speed up the process.