The Egyptian transitional government is more and more the focus of further protests, as tensions continue to build over street violence and two members of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces recently announced that they would remain in power even after parliamentary elections scheduled for November.
The government has pulled 28 people off the streets in connection with a protest that turned violent last week. Dozens of people died, and many more were injured in the worst violence since the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. The government has said that force was necessary to subdue what it said was protests against the government. Television footage has shown soldiers retaliating with force, including tanks aimed at dispersing protesters. The protests also had a religious element in that Muslims and Coptic Christians have been struggling against one another of late.
On Sunday, Mohamed El Baradei, an opposition leader and Nobel laureate who has announced his candidacy for the presidency, called on the government to try the detainees in a civilian court, not a military one. Military courts are generally closed to all but the participants, and people found guilty by military courts generally serve long sentences away from the public eye.
El Baradei also called for an independent investigation into the violence.
In a related development, the government has issued a decree that prohibits all forms of discrimination, including on religious grounds. The decree answers one of the protest movement's key demands. Anyone convicted of discrimination could face up to three months in prison and a fine of up to 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($17,000).
During the weekend, Maj. Gen. Mahmoud Hegazy, speaking on behalf of the ruling military council, said he and the other military leaders would maintain control over the government even after members of the new parliament are elected, a development that many observers internationally have identified as a breach of the promise fulfilled by Mubarak's ouster. The military leaders have said that in order to have a presidential election, they need to have a functioning parliament, a new constitutional assembly, and a new constitution. If that is the case, analysts say, El Baradei and others will be campaigning for at least another year, given the slow pace of current developments.