Egypt's media are demonizing the Muslim Brotherhood as the state's worst enemy, contending that the fundamentalist group plans to plunge the country into chaos if its candidate does not emerge as the winner from the presidential runoff.
Results of the weekend election were set to be announced Thursday, but officials postponed the declaration, setting off a wave of charges of manipulation aimed at all sides, including the ruling military.
The Brotherhood escalated its fight with the military, calling for a mass protest today to denounce what it called a power grab by the generals. Three major Islamist groups said Thursday they would join the protest in Tahrir Square, birthplace of the uprising that forced Hosni Mubarak out of the presidency last year.
Thousands of protesters, mostly Islamists, gathered in Tahrir Square on Thursday for the third consecutive day.
Protesters demanded the reinstatement of the Islamist-dominated parliament dissolved by a court ruling last week. They also called on the military to rescind a "constitutional declaration" granting the generals sweeping powers and stripping the next president of much of his authority.
International condemnation of the generals who took over from Mubarak also intensified. Human Rights Watch complained that recent moves by the military suggested that there would not be a "meaningful" handover of power to civilian rule by July 1 as promised and created conditions "ripe" for more human rights abuses.
The military has over the last week given itself the role of legislator, the right to arrest civilians and control over drafting a new constitution. It has also taken several steps to shield the military from civilian oversight.
The sense of political uncertainty engulfing the country following last weekend's presidential runoff is heightened by the failure of Egypt's election commission to announce a winner. Both candidates -- Mubarak's last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, and Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood -- have claimed victory.
Several media outlets are vigorously campaigning against the Brotherhood in articles and interviews that many suspect to be inspired by the generals, who have relied on a coterie of media celebrities and analysts of military background to defend their policies and vilify their critics.
The cover of this week's edition of the state weekly Al-Mussawar showed a picture of Morsi placing a kiss on the head of Mohammed Badie, the group's spiritual leader, or murshid, in a gesture of both reverence and submission.
"We will not be ruled by the Murshid," said the magazine in red print under the picture.
Inside, eight prominent literary figures known for their liberal views said in interviews that a Brotherhood presidency could change Egypt forever.