Egypt's transition to democracy put in doubt as "militias" add to polarization

Hopes for a swift end to Egypt’s impasse faded on Monday as opposition leaders rebuffed a call by President Mohamed Morsi for a “national dialogue” amid violence that cast a long shadow over the second anniversary of the revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak.

Fifty dead, hundreds of arrests, curfews and a state of emergency in three provinces were stark reminders of the volatile standoff between Morsi’s Islamist and conservative supporters and secularists, liberals, left-wingers and Copts. …

Continuing distrust of the powers-that-be was starkly evident in weekend fighting in Port Said, a battle-hardened city where violence erupted as relatives tried to storm a prison housing 22 football fans who were sentenced to death over last year’s stadium stampede disaster.

It is a measure of just how bad things are that even before an angry Morsi spoke to the nation on Sunday he was taunted that as the Muslim Brotherhood candidate in last summer’s presidential race he had pledged never to impose a state of emergency. The Brotherhood, in turn, blamed the opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) for “chaos and thuggery” – ignoring the substance of its complaints since Morsi took office last summer vowing grandly to rule “for all Egyptians”.