Analysts: Fate Of Egyptian Revolution At Stake

Long-simmering tensions between Egypt's ruling military council and post-Mubarak political parties could burst into the open. Islamist and secular parties are both planning mass demonstrations in Tahrir Square to protest what they see as efforts by the military to enshrine its power at the expense of an elected government.

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GUY RAZ, HOST:

In Egypt today, a rare move. Islamists and secular activists joined forces in several cities for a protest. They want to pressure their military rulers to cede control to an elected civilian government. The protest was sparked by a document floated by the interim government. It would give the Egyptian armed forces unchecked power.

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson went back to Cairo's now famous Tahrir Square and found tens of thousands of demonstrators.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING CROWD)

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: The crowd here was made up mostly of male Islamists who prayed and chanted for military rule to end. It was the largest protest at Tahrir Square since last July.

MOHAMMAD ALI HASSAN: (Foreign language spoken)

NELSON: One of the Islamist protestors, Mohammad Ali Hassan, warned the government to pay attention because if not, such demonstrations would only grow larger.

The protests were the most visible rift yet between Islamists and the generals who run Egypt since Hosni Mubarak resigned in February. The many banners and chants in Tahrir Square made it clear that the Islamists and secular political parties want the military to answer to the new government that will emerge after parliamentary elections that begin later this month.

Blogger Hossam el-Hamalawy says he was happy that the Islamists turned out in large numbers, even though they've often clashed with secular activists like himself.

HOSSAM EL-HAMALAWY: Actually, we prefer the Islamists to be with us in the streets, shoulder-to-shoulder, and instead of them sitting on the laps of the army generals basically.

ASMA MAHFUZ: (Foreign language spoken)

NELSON: Fellow activist Asma Mahfuz adds the military's intransigence proves the revolution in Egypt is not over.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD)

NELSON: Soldiers and security forces stayed away from today's protests, which broke up as night fell.

(SOUNDBITE OF A NEWSCLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken)

NELSON: The state-run Egyptian radio later reported the interim government hopes to continue talks with critics of the document next week. Protest organizers say they will continue demonstrating until the military backs down.

Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Cairo.

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