Egypt still in turmoil after 16 months

By Sarah El Deeb and Lee Keath

Associated Press

Published: Friday, June 15 2012 9:00 p.m. MDT

A turning point was a referendum in March 2011 in which the public overwhelmingly approved the military's plan for the transition. The Islamists strongly backed the plan, even proclaiming a "yes" vote to be required by God. The public trusted the military, was enamored at the promise of free elections and saw the revolutionaries' alternative as vague. The plan passed with 70 percent of the vote.

From then on, the military pointed to that referendum as proof of legitimacy for whatever it did.

While the generals portrayed themselves as the protectors of the revolution, their control meant there was no move to dismantle the system that Egyptians had risen up against.

Most commanders of the feared security forces and intelligence agencies remained. Regime cronies kept their hold on state TV and newspapers. Mubarak-appointed judges and prosecutors made only superficial efforts to investigate or prosecute members of the regime, leaving the vast legacy of corruption and political skullduggery intact.

Only a handful of low-level police officers were convicted in any of the deaths of 900 protesters in the uprising. Mubarak and his interior minister have been sentenced to life imprisonment for failing to stop those deaths, but not of ordering them. With a largely shoddy prosecution case, other security bosses were acquitted, and Mubarak and his sons were cleared of corruption charges.

The generals showed they could resort to even more brutal tactics than Mubarak. Troops cracked down on an early protest of military rule in Tahrir Square, detaining and torturing activists and carrying out humiliating "virginity tests" on female demonstrators in the nearby Egyptian Museum.

Further crackdowns by security forces left more than 100 dead, and more than 12,000 went before military trials.

State TV, firmly in the generals' hands, depicted revolutionaries as troublemakers or worse — agents paid by foreign powers to spread chaos.

That fueled resentment of the activists among some in the public, frustrated with the instability and an economy sliding downhill fast.

Notably, the Muslim Brotherhood repeated the same accusations against protesters — the starkest sign of their accommodation with the military for most of the past year.

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