More than 50,000 protestors gathered in Cairo and in Alexandria on Friday to protest against what many Egyptians believe is a military dictatorship.
The demonstration was called “Friday of One Demand” and was sparked by new declarations in a document issued by Egypt's military leadership that sought to set out ground rules for the drafting of a new Egyptian Constitution.
Many of the provisions in the document call for respect of individual liberties and minority rights, however one provision suggests that the military remain the guardian of “constitutional legitimacy.”
The document suggested that the military have the final word on major policies even after a civilian government is democratically elected, sparking fears that the military will intervene in the political processes at will.
Protestors crowded at the historic square chanted, “down to military rule” and “no to making the army a state above the state.”
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood dominated the protest rally as tens of thousands of Egyptians called for elections to be held and new leadership to be democratically elected by April 2012, as the current military leadership had promised when it assumed power following the fall of Hosni Mubarak.
The protest attracted members from all different political parties and religious movements and was reminiscent of the protests that ended Mubarak’s 20-year reign. However, liberal Egyptians have expressed fear over the potentiality of Islamists taking power in the country.
Mubarak was ousted after only 18 days of protests in one of the most visible and covered protests of the Arab Spring movement.
Protest organizers said that Friday’s rally was an attempt to put the revolution back on track, as many fear that the military leadership will evade elections to maintain its hold on power.
Friday’s protest was the most significant challenge to Egypt’s current ruling military council yet.
Emad Shahin, an Egyptian scholar told the New York Times, “the military forces would like to secure an exit from the transitional period with some kind of assurances of its future role in the political scene."
Shahin believes that Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood “think that this could put a check on their power even if they win clean and fair elections.”