Egypt's first free parliament in six decades gathered on Monday for what proved to be a turbulent opening session. Among the many important issues the parliament is scheduled to address -- including drafting a new constitution -- one topic caused quite a stir.
Does the ruler of the Supreme Council of the Armed Services (SCAF) deserve a thank-you note?
Earlier on Monday, head of the SCAF Field Marshal Tantawi sent a telegram to congratulate the People's Assembly on its first session. Yet Egypt's newly elected parliament disagreed fiercely on how to reply to the Field Marshal.
According to the Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm, the parliament's newly elected speaker, Saad Al-Katatny, wrote:
"The People's Assembly commends your historic stances in the great Egyptian revolution. You have taken the side of the people and their peaceful revolution since the outbreak of the first spark of the revolution. And as brave fighters, you shouldered the burden of making this choice.
Yet many asked whether the Field Marshal deserves such honors; protesters have continued to express discontent with Egypt's military rulers in the past months and have raised concerns over a smooth transition to civilian rule.
Replying to the speaker, member of parliament Mostafa El-Naggar said that the note would likely anger many. "If we were to thank the SCAF we also need to point out on their flaws," El-Naggar said, according to Al Ahram.
Egypt's military council took power after the fall of the regime of president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. The council says it will hand over power after Egypt's presidential elections, now scheduled for June, however many Egyptians fear the military will continue to cling to power. Thousands gathered in Cairo in the past weeks to demand the resignation of the council and its leader Field Marshal Mohamed Husein Tantawi. Protesters also accuse the SCAF of continuing authoritarian rule, practicing torture in its prisons and killing demonstrators in Cairo last November.