Will the country slide back into authoritarianism?
Protesters chant slogans against the government and military rulers at Tahrir Square after Friday prayers in Cairo / Reuters).
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During the tense early days of Egypt's revolution, crowds massing in Tahrir Square cheered the Egyptian military as a force of moderation. Protesters held babies up to be photographed with tank operators. People shared their tea with soldiers. That honeymoon ended pretty quickly as Egyptians of all stripes became increasingly uneasy about when and whether the military would actually hand over power. Egypt is scheduled to begin parliamentary elections at the end of November, but the transition to a civilian government still seems distant.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) continues to act in a pretty authoritarian manner. It has been accused of censoring both traditional media outlets like newspapers and print magazines as well as Al Jazeera's Mubasheer Misr channel and a popular TV show with host Yousri Foda; it stirred up controversy recently by proposing a set of "supra-constitutional principles," stipulating that the military budget would be secret, and allowing for the military to veto articles of the new constitution and to appoint a new constitution committee if the elected committee fails to draft a constitution in six months. It also continues to try civilians in military tribunals. Over 12,000 Egyptians have been tried this way, with 93 percent convicted. Among them is blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah, who is accused of inciting violence in the October 9 massacre at Maspero where 27 people were killed in a clash between the military and Christian protesters. SCAF has kept in place the much-loathed Emergency Law, a hold-over from Mubarak that allows the state to arrest and detain civilians with impunity.