Mubarak's arrest appeases protesters, for now

Ahram Online, Friday 15 Apr 2011

With Tahrir Square mostly free of protesters, this week's events seem to have put Friday demonstrations on hold though with other demands yet to be met, it might not be long before thousands defiantly fill it again

Tahrir Square (AP Photos)

The arrest and detainment of Mubarak and his sons seems to have appeased many of the country's revolutionaries with only around 300 protesters making it to Tahrir Square today.

The sight of the relatively empty square this week stands in stark contrast with the image of millions of protesters filling its every inch last week. However, it seems that the decision by the prosecutor-general to arrest Mubarak and his sons, a long-time demand of the revolution, has had an impact.

Some of the protesters who made it to the square today are calling for a speedy trial for Mubarak, who was given a 15 day jail sentence last Tuesday. A huge banner calls for him to be handed the death sentence for killing the protesters during the 18 days of protests leading up to his ouster. Another has an image of Safwat El Sherif, former secretary-general of the NDP, behind bars in celebration of his imprisonment in Tora Prison, south of Cairo. Other protesters in the square repeat the old line of solidarity between the people and the army.

Last Friday, Egypt witnessed the first million-man march since Mubarak stepped down on 11 February. The day, dubbed the “Friday of Cleansing,” saw protesters hold a mock trial for Mubarak. Many of the protesters were angry that the ousted president and his sons were yet to be tried. The fact that many former officials and businessmen from his regime were already in jail did not satisfy the protesters who insisted that for the revolution to succeed Mubarak himself needs to stand in front of a court.

That protest ended in clashes between the protesters and the army who tried to evacuate the square at 2am on Saturday morning. The clashes left at least two protesters dead and 70 wounded and sounded the alarm bells of growing tension between the people and the army.

After Prosecutor-General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud handed Mubarak and his two sons Alaa and Gamal 15 day jail sentences, pending investigation, the protesters decided to suspend their weekly Friday protests. On Wednesday, Egypt’s Revolutionary Youth Coalition held a press conference and announced that they will call off today’s protest now that it appears the army is responding to its demands.

However, the coalition and several other pro-change movements are planning another mass protest on 22 April to voice their other demands. These demands include the release of the results of the investigation into the violence that took place In Tahrir Square the morning of 9 April, the release of all political prisoners, an end to military trials for civilians, the dissolving of all local councils as well as the former ruling National Democratic Party and the replacement of all governors.

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