06/19/2012, 00.00
EGYPT

Military-Muslim Brotherhood confrontation killing democracy, says young Egyptian

Islamists are in the streets to protest what they call a military coup. A direct confrontation between the military and Islamist parties is a growing possibility after results of the presidential election are announced. Young Coptic activist says Tahrir Square youth want to stay clear of the conflict between these two factions, but still want to fight for democracy, religious freedom and human rights.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - Tensions between the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the Muslim Brotherhood have reached a boiling point in post-Mubarak Egypt. Since Sunday, Islamist parliamentarians have been protesting in front of parliament, which was dissolved just before the presidential election, shouting slogans against the military, accusing them of carrying out a coup. Meanwhile, as they wait for the results of the presidential poll, leaders from the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party claim they are defending democracy against the military. Yesterday, they said they would organise large protests, like those that led to Mubarak's downfall last year. For Riham Ramzy, a young Catholic Coptic women's rights activist, both the military and Islamists are only out to defend their own interests, not those of a democratic Egypt.

"All Egyptians are against the new constitutional declaration, which is an attack against democracy," she said. "It limits the powers of the president and gives the military the power to appoint members of the future assembly. At the same time however, people are afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood, which, like the military, has marginalised other political forces, also limiting the voices of the families of the martyrs of Tahrir Square."

The revolutionary élan, that seemed so contagious at the time of Mubarak's fall, has waned as people faced a choice between the continuation of the military regime, and an unknown future with the Islamists.

"In this situation, we are caught between a military rock and an Islamist hard place. Both are against the values for which hundreds of us made sacrifices," she said.

The Tahrir Square revolution by young people was clear from the start, the young woman explained. It was a struggle for democracy, human rights and religious freedom against all forms of interference, military or religious.

The standoff between large numbers of Islamists and thousands of soldiers deployed to protect parliament and various ministries might be a prelude for a direct confrontation between Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists and the military.

"Most of the movements in Tahrir Square want to stay out of this war," Riham said. "It's not our fight." However, "many people still think that democracy has not completely disappeared and that it is still worth fighting for."

"Perhaps, the best solution would be for a victory by the Muslim Brotherhood in the presidential elections. At least, this way, a civilian would be able to stand up to the military. Although it would not be a democracy, we would avoid having absolute power in the hands of one of the two factions."

Results from the 15-16 June elections are expected to be released next Thursday. At present, both candidates, Ahmed Shafiq, (a former prime minister of Mubarak) and Mohammed Morsy (Muslim Brotherhood) claim to have won with 52 per cent of the vote.  (S.C.)

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