Tahrir Square was packed today with protesters demanding real reform, the kind they expected after Mubarak fell, but which is still denied to them. This newest “million man march”, which turned out tens of thousands in the Square, comes as a direct result of recent trials, where several high-profile cases of ministers, officers and officials accused of killing large numbers of protesters were set free without any charges. The protesters now demand a new wave of political purging, including the resignation of the many ministers who served under Mubarak and remain powerful political officials today. Head of the military government, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who served as defense minister under Mubarak, has become the focal point of this new wave of demonstrations in Tahrir, but the demands strech far and wide, indicating that only when a truly new government has come to power will the people of Egypt be content.
Many of the governors who served the NDP were already ousted months ago and replaced with governors traditionally unaffiliated with the NDP, but the central command structure is still very much influenced—and led by—the ministers and officials who worked with the NDP under Mubarak. While protests in Alexandria and Suez have also erupted, it is, perhaps because of this, Cairo that is the absolute center of attention, as it is Cairo where these ministers reside. Many ministers have already fled.
These events occur in the midst of a single fear that the revolution has not succeeded, and that if it does not continue and ultimately succeed, it will therefore fail—that failure manifests itself in the stubbornness of the remains of the NDP and in the failed trials of those responsible for the deaths of the protesters. Alongside this fear exists another fear that, given the recently failed trials and the upcoming trials of even more officials and even more ministers, justice will not be done, and that even more of those responsible for the deaths will be allowed to roam free.
The movement still retains a very large part of its origins—it is a social and labor movement for rights, equality, and pay, and at the same time it is a movement protesting the power of the government which, in the eyes of the protesters, is corrupt. Government persecution is not as open and inflammatory as it was under Mubarak, but it is persecution nonetheless, in the eyes of the people, and their reaction is the same. Instead of directing that reaction against the old dictator Mubarak, they are now directing it against those who still hold offices but who, under Mubarak, committed what we could consider breaches of human rights—namely torture and murder.
While next to no one among the guilty officials has been charged and convicted, it is the civilians who have been--7,000 civilians, in fact. They have been tried by the military tribunal which has taken hold in post-Mubarak Egypt. And while they cry for justice, they are convicted of disturbing the peace.