Egyptians protest military gov’t, demand changes
Published Jul 18, 2011 9:44 PM
Tens of thousands of protesters were in the streets across Egypt July 8 showing
their revolution is continuing. Demonstrators packed city centers, demanding
faster reforms and voicing frustration at what they see as foot dragging by
military rulers and government officials.
Anger has been building up among ordinary Egyptians and activists against the
ruling military council over what they see as delays in the prosecution of
President Hosni Mubarak and former officials charged with corruption and
killing demonstrators during the uprising that toppled him.
Most political groups and parties backed calls for the protest called
“The Revolution First.”
“The demands of the revolution have not changed since day one,”
declared the 25th January Revolution Youth Coalition in an online statement
calling on Egyptians to join the July 8 demonstration. “It was not just
about toppling the old regime but about building a state where people can have
freedom, dignity, rule of law and social justice.”(The Guardian, July
Demands for change have been increasing ever since the early spring uprising
that toppled Mubarak. The army council that took control has used repressive
tactics to prevent the Egyptian masses from raising legitimate demands. The
council outlawed strikes, for example.
Although Washington gave lip service to supporting the revolution, it depends
on its significant influence within the Egyptian military leadership —
through military aid and training — to slow down the process of change in
On June 1, after it faced public criticism for torturing demonstrators and
admitting that it forced some female detainees to undergo “virginity
tests,” the military pressed the Egyptian news media to censor harsh
criticism of it and protect the military’s image.
After an Egyptian pipeline supplying natural gas to Israel was blown up, the
line was repaired, but on June 2, gas was not flowing and foreign shareholders
of the company were threatening legal action against Egypt.
On June 29, a night of fighting between demonstrators and security forces made
it clear that there were differences between those who want faster change and
those who want to keep the status quo of the Mubarak era.
‘We won’t leave the square!’
On July 5, an Egyptian criminal court acquitted three former government
ministers of corruption, while convicting a fourth in absentia. These verdicts
aggravated public anger over the pace of efforts to hold former officials
accountable for killing almost 1,000 people during and after the
country’s 18-day revolution last January-February.
On July 10, following the massive July 8 protests, demonstrators blocked access
to the Egyptian capital’s largest government building and threatened to
expand sit-ins to other sites unless authorities speed up reform efforts. These
reforms include probing abuses that occurred during the uprising that toppled
In addition, demonstrators blocked access to the government administration
building in Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the 18-day uprising. They halted
traffic and threatened to broaden the sit-ins to include the nearby Interior
Ministry and state TV building if their demands were not met.
In the city of Suez, east of the Egyptian capital, protesters have blocked the
coastal road linking the Suez Canal city to the Red Sea ports of Safagah and
Hurghada. The protests disrupt maritime trade by trapping hundreds of cars and
Beside justice for the martyrs of the uprising, protesters are demanding the
resignation of Interior Minister Mansour al-Issawi, who is in charge of the
hated police force, and of the country’s top prosecutor. They also want
the government to stop trying civilians in military courts and to release and
retry civilians previously convicted by military tribunals.
On July 10, protesters called for massive nationwide demonstrations on July 12
to press their demands. “We will not leave the square until all our
demands are met,” said Essam el-Shareef, one of the protest leaders. (AP,
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