Why some Egyptians see military rulers as worse than Mubarak
Egypt's military rulers this weekend broadened the use of the country's emergency law, a despised tool of Mubarak's regime, instead of lifting as they had promised to do.
Egypt's interim military rulers are increasingly repressing civil rights, sparking an outcry from Egyptians who say that the generals who promised to lead a transition to democracy have instead become even more restrictive than former President Hosni Mubarak.Skip to next paragraph
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After hundreds of protesters attacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo on Friday night, the government broadened the country's emergency law to allow the Ministry of Interior to indefinitely detain or send to military court citizens who engaged in strikes, "thuggery," or "deliberately publishing false news, statements, or rumors."
“This is classic Mubarak-think: The knee-jerk reaction to deal with any security problem is to give more powers to the Ministry of Interior,” says Heba Morayef, a Cairo-based researcher for Human Rights Watch.
The repeal of the law, which Mr. Mubarak used as a blunt instrument of repression throughout his 30-year rule, had been a key demand of the revolution, and the military council had promised in March that it would lift the law by this month.
On Sunday, police operating under the auspices of the Ministry of the Interior raided the offices of satellite TV network Al Jazeera, further raising fears of a crackdown on media and expression.
Criticism from across the political spectrum
Significantly, the military council’s actions have been met with criticism from across the Egyptian spectrum, including groups that had previously been reluctant to speak against the military, showing growing concern with the council’s increasing turn toward Mubarak-era repression. Many are now increasingly pinning their hopes on coming elections as the only way to reverse the authoritarian trend.
Parliamentary elections, originally scheduled for this month, are now tentatively planned for November. But the military council will stay in power until a new president has been elected, and that vote has not yet been scheduled.
The Muslim Brotherhood, one of the most influential political parties heading into the elections and one that has previously largely refrained from criticizing the military, released a statement Sunday chastising the military council for a lack of leadership that it said led to the embassy attack, and demanding a timeline for transition to civilian rule.
Last month, Israeli security forces killed six Egyptian border guards while reportedly pursuing gunmen who had launched an attack near the border that killed eight Israelis. Despite Egyptian popular outrage, the military council refused to withdraw Egypt’s ambassador to Israel. Many political parties and movements, including the Brotherhood, are now blaming the council for not acting, allowing anger to overflow into the embassy attack.
Walid Shalaby, a spokesman for the Brotherhood, told the Monitor today that the group also rejected the expansion of the emergency law, saying it was uncalled for. “We are against thuggery, we are against breaking the law,” he said. “But infractions should be dealt with under the normal criminal laws which don’t restrict freedom. We want progress toward security and freedom.”