Curfew papers over a deepening Egyptian divide

Curfew papers over a deepening Egyptian divide
Hosni Mubarak inside a dock at the police academy on the outskirts of Cairo in April.

CAIRO - It is 6.30pm in Cairo and the city that never sleeps is tucking itself in.

The Nile River, usually filled with party boats blaring Arab pop, is silent. Metal shutters are drawn over sidewalk cafes that are normally overflowing with people. And the soundtrack of this city of 18 million - a cacophony of car horns - is muted.

The calm is the product of a nationwide curfew, imposed by Egypt's military after more than 800 people were killed last week in anti-government protests.

The deaths have cast a pall over the Arab world's biggest state, and left Egyptians divided and fearful.

"I am worried about the future of the country," said taxi driver Mohamed Sayed. He was racing to get home before the 7pm curfew kicked in and soldiers blocked off Cairo's main streets.

"The government is going one way. The opposition is going another. I don't think they will ever come together."

Egypt, home to 85 million, is mired in a six-week-long crisis. It began when the military ousted president Mohamed Mursi last month, driving his largely Islamist supporters into the streets.

Hundreds have died in clashes since then, many the victims of what rights groups have called a brutal crackdown by the security forces.

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