|Picture by Gigi Ibrahim. Suez, 7 July.|
'Egypt's military-backed transitional government is bracing itself for the largest protest yet against its rule on Friday with plans for a "million-strong" rally to defend the revolution at Tahrir Square.
In a rare show of unity, Egypt's largest political Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, will join a vast array of liberal, leftist and secular political forces, including youth representatives from this year's anti-Mubarak uprising. They will demand that police officers and former regime officials are finally held accountable and that the army's grip over the justice system comes to an end.
"Take to the streets on July 8: the revolution is still on," reads graffiti scrawled across the Egyptian capital.
The demonstration comes at a perilous time for the authorities, following 10 days of street violence in Cairo and Suez as public frustration at the slow pace of reform begins to grow.
On Wednesday, armed security forces fought running battles with civilians, after several police officers accused of murdering protesters during the toppling of former president Hosni Mubarak earlier this year were released on bail.
"The demands of the revolution have not changed since day one," declared the 25th January Revolution Youth Coalition in an online statement calling on Egyptians to join Friday's demonstration. "It was not just about toppling the old regime but about building a state where people can have freedom, dignity, rule of law and social justice."
Read the rest HERE.
Three things are worth noting. Firstly, while the article's main focus is on Cairo today, it's acknowledged that protests are happening elsewhere (also see the picture above from Suez) - and that today's demonstrations will be building on continual protest activity in recent days.
Secondly, The Muslim Brotherhood has shifted ground since 27 May, when it publicly condemned demonstrations in Tahrir Square and elsewhere. It is under great pressure, including from many of its own youth. The Brotherhood continues to play a highly contradictory role, torn between conflicting forces in Egyptian society. Participation now is vital to maintaining credibility with millions of Egyptian people. But it follows - it doesn't lead.
Finally, the emergence of popular assemblies isn't explicitly mentioned by the Guardian but it is happening. It is difficult to assess their scope and development from afar, but socialist activists have pointed to them as a crucial innovation. These are alternative forums and organising centres that convey a a more radical notion of democracy to the modest advances of the current transitional period with its myriad frustrations and failings.
Two weeks ago I wrote about the background to this: Egyptian left organises for 8 July mass protests
Also see my report from the recent Cairo Conference.