Street by street, Egypt activists face Old Guard

The Associated Press reports:

After the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, a group of young activists quickly moved to bring the can-do spirit of Egypt’s revolution down to the level of their neighborhood.

They began installing electricity poles in Mit Oqba’s dim streets. They got gas pipes extended to the area. They did what local officials had long promised but never done, with the aim of showing 300,000 low-income residents the benefits of an uprising meant to end the corruption and stagnation under Mubarak.

Then the activists’ parents started getting intimidating warnings: Your children are going to get beaten up by thugs. An official who helped them get papers signed for extending the gas pipes was suddenly transferred to another post.

The activists had run into a collision course with powerful local members of the former ruling party. It was a lesson about the new Egypt: The old regime is still in place and fighting change.

“The regime is not just Mubarak and his ministers. There are thousands still benefiting,” said Mohammed Magdy, one of the activists in Mit Oqba.

Mubarak was ousted five months ago, along with top figures from his nearly 30-year regime. But the military generals who now rule have been slow in — or have outright resisted — dismantling the grip that members of his former ruling party hold on every level of the state, from senior government positions down to local administrations. In the meantime, public anger that real change has not come is growing explosive.

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