Thousands of Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square on Tuesday night to protest recent power grabs by the country's ruling military council, which they see as further derailing an already shaky transitional process.
Thanks to a series of court rulings, ministry decisions and unilateral constitutional declarations, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament has been dissolved, and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has assumed legislative powers and a de facto constitution-writing veto, in addition to civilian arrest powers.
Though the expansion of military powers alarms a wide spectrum of Egyptian society, it stands most starkly against the Brotherhood, whose candidate, Mohammed Morsi, looks poised to become Egypt's next president, though possibly with very little power.
As much as the Brotherhood had hoped the Tuesday protest would show a united political front to the SCAF - and described it as such - Tahrir Square seemed decidedly slanted toward the Brotherhood and other Islamists, who stand the most to immediately gain from reducing SCAF's power.
Mamdouh Ismail, MP from Nour Party - We’re here because a coup against legitimacy by the military council has happened against every tenet of democracy, which has completely vanished every means of democratic oversight. So we have once again returned to the people that voted for us. If what they went out for, if what we’re going for, is a civilian authority for all our people, then the only sovereign power is with them.
Under the current military coup, everything is possible, because there is no basis in law and order. But, God willing, and by the will of the people who overthrew the former regime in all its tyranny, we’ll be able to overturn the current coup.
Mohammed Saad, member of Muslim Brotherhood Shura Council - First of all, we’re aiming to unite the Egyptian people in all of their factions and and groups to continue achieving the aims of the revolution. The recent acts by the military council have helped in uniting all these powers once again and returning them to the square.
Our first demand for today is to counter the suspicious acts by the military council in the past four days, by insisting on dissolving parliament and getting the authority to arrest civilians by intelligence [agents] and the military, and finally the constitutional declaration that has extended the authority of the military council farther. The military council has given itself authority without asking the people.
These people are the ones who toppled Mubarak. They are able to get their rights from the military council and limit its influence and even topple it. This is what we’ve seen in the elections; all the revolutionary groups and national fronts joined hands with the Brotherhood against Shafiq.
Nihal Badia, gynecologist - The aims of the revolution are starting to fade, slowly and gradually they’re being hijacked by the military council, and their over-involvement after the recent decisions. Other acts by the military council have shown they are not willing to hand over power.
Today is different from any other protest. Today I feel there is unity between every other group. April 6th is here, the revolutionary socialists are here, liberals, all the revolutionary fronts. God willing, after the presence of such huge numbers here, the military council will reconsider, if they had any intentions. The Egyptian people are going to protect the revolution and their president, Mohammed Morsi.
Shihab Mohammed, lawyer - The first thing is that the military council takes back its constitutional declaration, because without a public referendum like the original one which we had in March , this is illegitimate.
The second thing, that the Supreme Constitutional Court reverse its verdict [to dissolve parliament]. I’m with the Freedom and Justice Party but not a Brotherhood member. I voted Morsi in the first round, of course.
April 6th are here, the Kefaya movement is here, people who have nothing to do with the Brotherhood - football ultras and Salafis.
I don’t think they’ll allow a Shafiq presidency. As we’ve seen, all the results are signed by the polling stations and given to every party coordinator, it’s a matter of time before Morsi becomes president.
After Morsi becomes president, there are so many things I’d like to see. I’d like to see Egypt like Malaysia, with improved telecommunications, and transportation like in France and Europe and China. [We need] an improved state built out into the desert - so many things.