Sunday, July 31, 2011

Egypt: The march towards democracy proceeds amid suspicions that generals and Islamists are trying to slow it down

Torrid post-revolutionary times
The Economist

DURING the Egyptian summer tempers rise along with temperatures. Street fights erupt with alarming regularity. Purple faces, bulging veins and blood-curdling threats seem to portend carnage. Yet much of this is theatre, played out in the confidence that passers-by will intervene, separate combatants and make them reconcile.

Emerging from decades in a deep freeze of authoritarianism, Egyptian politics is showing a similar propensity to grow dangerously heated, then subside into calm as cooler heads intervene. In recent weeks the political scene, occupied by scores of passionate new actors produced by the big bang of revolution, has looked frighteningly polarised. It pits mostly secular forces, impatient for sweeping change, against wary conservatives who are backed by the ruling army high command and bolstered, ironically, by Islamist groups that faced repression under the pre-revolutionary regime. The tension has at times risen beyond rhetoric. On July 23rd pro-army vigilantes attacked a protest march in Cairo, leaving more than 300 people injured.

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