The identity they’re defending is Arab and Islamic, and the popular will was that expressed by the 77% of the country that voted ‘yes’ to March’s constitutional referendum. The 23% that voted ‘no’ came mostly from the ranks of the secular revolutionaries, who wanted more time to prepare for the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.
Having lost that vote in the spring, the revolutionaries stayed in the streets and made demands on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. In time, the inordinate attention given the secularists grated on the Islamists, whose role in the revolution had largely been forgotten, and then obscured by both the local and international media. Either the press did not want to credit the Islamists’ power or were afraid of the implications.
In any case, the secularist-Islamist divide came to a head when the secular revolutionaries demanded that political grouping sign on to a supra-constitutional document that would guarantee the secular nature of Egypt, regardless of the outcome of elections this fall. The military, fearing the initiative had street support, conceded again to the requests of the revolutionaries, but the Islamists have finally pushed back. They went to the streets today in force, effectively taking over control from the secularists. Overwhelmed by the Islamists’ show of strength, twenty-eight secular parties and coalitions announced they were withdrawing from Tahrir. Today's events perhaps offer more evidence that in Egypt at present, democracy means Islamism.