Tensions are running high in advance of the weekend anniversary of the start of massive 2011
But every day brings evidence of deep polarization. Many of the young people who took part in the Tahrir Square protests are bitterly disillusioned by what they see as a government bid to hijack the memory of the uprising's ideals. They showed that by staying away from the polls in last week's constitutional referendum.
On Wednesday, a youth group that was a driving force behind the 2011 revolution reported that six of its members had been briefly detained by authorities for putting up posters calling for anniversary rallies of its own. They were held for nine hours before being released without being charged, the April 6 Democratic Front said.
The collision of hopes and realities is a recurring theme in Egyptian public life these days. Voters last week overwhelmingly approved a new constitution with provisions meant to strengthen personal freedoms, but the weeks leading up to the referendum coincided with a wave of prosecutions that government critics and human rights groups say appear politically motivated and ill-supported by evidence.
Three well-known activists of the anti-Mubarak era recently received three-year prison sentences, which they are appealing, for violating a tough new anti-protest law. Twenty-five others, a mix of secular liberals and supporters of the
A senior advisor to interim President
At the moment, however, dissent of almost any stripe appears to be criminalized. Authorities have said tens of thousands of police would be mobilized to safeguard Saturday's commemorations. The Interior Ministry declared that any unlawful acts -- taken by most Egyptians to mean any anti-government gatherings -- would be met with force.
The Muslim Brotherhood, meanwhile, made a rare acknowledgment of mistakes during the yearlong tenure of deposed President
The Islamist president was removed from office by the military in July following enormous protests against his rule. He is imprisoned and accused of a variety of capital crimes. Hundreds of his followers have been killed and thousands jailed.
Public opinion has continued to run strongly against the Brotherhood amid the concerted government effort to crush the movement with arrests and use of deadly force. In its statement, issued late Tuesday, the group sought to remind Egyptians, in advance of the anniversary, of its own role in helping bring down Mubarak.
"Continue our revolution!" it urged.