The military regime that rules Egypt has launched a brutal crackdown against protesters in the country. Thugs attacked Islamist protesters in May while soldiers looked on. More than ten were killed.

They had been staging a sit-in at the Ministry of Defence lasting a week, during which the protest was subject to attacks with knives, firearms and machine guns by plainclothes thugs working closely with the army.

The sit-in was started by supporters of the disqualified Salafi presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, who called for the dissolution of the Presidential Electoral Committee. The committee, controlled by the military regime, has also been the target of wrath from all shades of the political spectrum. Ten candidates out of the original 23 have been disqualified.

The Islamists are not a unified homogenous block.

Millions of Egyptians from different backgrounds and provinces are part of the Muslim Brotherhood and the different Salafist groups.

Young Salafis took part in the January 2011 uprising contrary to virtually all the Salafi celebrity sheikhs’ pro-Mubarak position. The latter have prohibited strikes and demonstrations, yet many of their poor followers are moving in a different direction and have joined the strikes that have spread throughout the country since the revolution. The dismal performance of Abu Ismail in the crisis, including disowning repeatedly his supporters, is bound to disillusioned his supporters.

The sit-in presented a step forward for the revolution, despite the army’s onslaught that saw hundreds detained and brutally tortured.

Many Islamists and ordinary citizens are still languishing in custody and awaiting military prosecution. Other revolutionaries including socialists in Egypt are standing with them and demanding their release. Polarisation within the Islamist movement will only increase with every betrayal and compromise the Islamist leadership brokers with the military regime, and with the escalation of the wave of strikes still shaking the country. Even as the first Presidential election approaches, the Egyptian revolution is far from over.

Hossam El-Hamalawy, adapted from Socialist Worker UK

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