Egyptians Return to Tahrir Square
By Leila Fadel
July 9, 2011
CAIRO - Tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered yesterday in Tahrir Square, the symbol of the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak this year, to protest what they perceive as an unwillingness to prosecute Mubarak-era officials and police responsible for the killing of nearly 900 protesters.
The demonstration, dubbed the “Friday of determination,’’ was the largest since the revolt in January and February that changed Egypt and inspired other Arab countries to rise up against their autocratic leaders. Egyptians in the square said they had no plans to leave.
Tents were erected and stages were built for speakers, reminiscent of the winter when masses refused to leave central Cairo until Mubarak and his family left.
Demonstrations were peaceful, but the past two weeks have been tense, with many Egyptians voicing growing anger over what they consider the slow pace of change under the interim military government and the failure to bring to justice the perpetrators of crimes committed during the 18-day revolution and Mubarak’s 30-year rule.
So far, only one noncommissioned police officer from the Mubarak era has been convicted for the attacks this winter that killed hundreds of unarmed people. The officer was sentenced to death in absentia, and the penalty cannot be enforced. Meanwhile, more than 7,000 civilians have been convicted in military tribunals, prompting an outcry from human rights activists.
Demonstrators have clashed violently with police multiple times in recent days as Mubarak-era ministers were acquitted on corruption charges and police officers in Suez who had been accused of killing protesters were released on bail.
In anticipation of yesterday’s protest, Egyptian authorities tried to calm the rage. Interior Minister Mansour el-Essawi promised to reshuffle the ministry that oversees the police and dismiss hundreds of police officers and generals linked to attacks during the uprising.
But many Egyptians said those measures are not enough, adding that they are determined to resurrect the revolution.