The Egyptian revolution is far from over. Public protest has surged again in response to the killing of at least 35 people, with 3,250 injured across the country, in violent crackdowns by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). In Cairo's Mohammed Mahmud Street near Tahrir Square, a volunteer doctor — one of about 200 who had turned up to help — was killed by gas inhalation after police fired a tear gas canister directly at the field hospital where she was working. Other doctors have spoken of the injured suffering convulsions, and have expressed suspicions that the military regime is using chemicals deadlier than the tear gas its forces used earlier. The cabinet has offered its resignation, but it is not clear if SCAF has accepted this. Following the latest atrocity, the protesters are calling for the departure of SCAF's chairman, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. They want the Council to be replaced by civilian elders until elections are over. A compromise whereby a presidential election would be held in June 2012 and not at some unspecified time in 2013 might have been accepted had Mr. Tantawi not infuriated protesters by blaming foreign interference. For the time being, clerics from Al Azhar University, the country's foremost madrassa, have brokered a fragile truce.
SCAF has lost public trust through its indefensible acts of commission and omission, for instance trying civilian protesters and bloggers in military courts, and not even starting to clean up Egypt's notoriously corrupt administration. Nor has the regime made any attempt to reform the judiciary, the civil service, and the police, all of which had been turned into puppets in the hands of Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted by nationwide protests in January. Furthermore, SCAF has refused to postpone parliamentary elections scheduled for November 28; all political groups except one say this will leave them no time to build party organisations. The exception, significantly, is the Muslim Brotherhood, which has the biggest party machine and a socially conservative rural following. It stands to gain most in the imminent election, despite the damage its reputation has suffered on account of its opposition to the current protests. But all is far from lost for the pro-democracy campaigners. Even the Brotherhood is divided as a result of the latest violence, and some senior figures have defected. The military rulers, who seem to have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing, are replaying Mr. Mubarak's language and strategies. It is clear that Egypt, its hard-pressed people and its institutions, are in for a stern test.