Their campaign against Islamist President Mohamed Mursi helped the army topple Egypt’s first freely elected leader, but some leaders of the Tamarud movement have broken away, saying the military threatens democracy.
The split in Tamarud (Rebellion) is a sign of growing public anger against the army-backed government installed after Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi deposed Mursi in July, following a Tamarud-organized petition and mass protests against him.
“We wanted the army to help us oust Mursi, not take over power itself,” said Mohamed Fawzi, leader of a splinter faction calling itself Tamarud 2 Get Liberated, told Reuters. “The army’s role is to protect and guard the state, not to rule.”
Sisi, who delighted many Egyptians by crushing the Brotherhood, is now expected to run for president and revive a long tradition of military men leading the biggest Arab nation.
The field marshal, widely regarded as Egypt’s most powerful man, is cast by his followers as a national savior. His image is ubiquitous, appearing on posters, t-shirts and chocolates.
But a tide of detentions and killings of protesters has prompted former Tamarud leaders to turn against the army and security forces, despite the rising risks of dissent in Egypt.
“We are seeing a return of the police state, but with new faces,” Fawzi said, in reference to security forces which were dreaded under Hosni Mubarak, but which have found their way back to power since a popular uprising toppled the autocrat in 2011.