Tens of thousands of Islamists jammed Tahrir Square on Friday, demanding the swift exit of Egypt’s interim military rulers in the most significant challenge to their authority since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak nine months ago.Meet the new boss, worse than the old one...
Protesters chanted calls for the overthrow of the ruling military council or the exit of Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who heads the council. “Tantawi, we will step over you with a shoe!” some chanted.
“Down with the rule of the military,” others declared. “We are the people; we are the red line.”
All said they came to protest because of the provisions about the role of the military in its constitutional ground rules. One provision would give the military a special political role as guardian of “constitutional legitimacy,” which many consider a license to intervene at will in any matter. Other provisions would protect its budget from civilian supervision and grant the military broad authority over foreign policy as well.
“We are the people, we made the revolution and we don’t need a guardian to tell us how to write our constitution,” said Mohamed Abdel Azeem, 40, a railroad worker from a town an hour outside Cairo. “The army is the people’s institution, and the people have the right to supervise it.”
Some said they would welcome the civil liberties provisions in the declaration, if only they had come from the public instead of the military. But others suggested that they wanted the next government to have the freedom to impose more restrictive interpretations of Islamic law, or Shariah. “It will come, but gradually,” said Mohamed Hassan, 24, a teacher from Ismailia, east of Cairo.
“We can’t say tomorrow we will govern by Islamic Shariah. It will take time, because for hundreds of years we have lived by Western democracy,” he said, referring to the undemocratic Egyptian government’s relative tolerance in matters like women’s dress, alcohol sales or the news media.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
How's the revolution going?