Egypt’s ruling military council said they would reactivate the emergency law they promised to end after Egyptian protesters stormed the Israeli Embassy in Cairo on Friday.
In an attempt to bolster their own power, and in response to heavy pressure from the US and Israel to crack down, the military vowed to use the emergency law to try suspects in emergency state security courts, block roads, and censor the press, among other things. Under Mubarak, the emergency law was used to stifle opposition and repress Egyptian rights, and fears are widespread that the military council will utilize the law for similar reasons.
Egypt’s young pro-democracy movement is criticizing the military council for backsliding on promised reform and maintaining Mubarak’s repression. Among the promises were to end the emergency law within six months of Mubarak’s fall, an end to violence against protesters, to set a firm date for a parliamentary election, all of which the military has now broken.
The most pernicious of the emergency measures taken thus far has been the attacks on news media, which is an essential ingredient to Egypt’s ongoing revolution. Egyptian security forces raided the Egyptian offices of al Jazeera on Sunday as Egyptian and Israeli officials jostled to repair relations after Israel pulled diplomats out of Egypt in response to the storming of the embassy.
Egypt’s minister of media, Osama Heikal, said the government would take legal action against news media that “endanger the stability and security” of the nation, a clear sign that control of the population is taking precedence over their newly reaffirmed rights.
As Egypt’s transition has struggled along, US pressure and military assistance has remained strong. The warnings from the protest movement that things are going sour is a good sign that US national security planners are succeeding in snuffing out the Arab Spring’s fire.