Egypt artists respond to Mubarak verdicts, call for presidential council

Farah Montasser, Sunday 3 Jun 2012

Egyptian artists blast Mubarak trial verdicts, call for 'united front' to assume executive authority and lead country through new transitional phase

Egyptian artists

Egyptians heard the long-awaited verdict in ousted president Hosni Mubarak's historic murder and corruption trial on Saturday, in which the deposed president and long-time interior minister Habib El-Adly were slapped with life sentences for the murder of unarmed anti-regime protesters during last year's Tahrir Square uprising. Yet contentiously, Mubarak's two sons – Gamal and Alaa – and six former interior ministry officers were exonerated of all charges against them.

Following the verdicts, massive protests erupted across Egypt, especially in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and Daqahaliya. Demonstrators called for a retrial and urged Egypt's post-revolution political movements and parties to unite against the "counter-revolution" and the "remnants" of the former regime.

Through online social networks, meanwhile, Egyptian artists expressed support for the revolution and called for national unity. Some even joined the protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square, including director Khaled Youssef.

In an interview with Al Jazeera on Saturday night, Youssef said: "We call on the people and the political class to forge a united front to assume power immediately and lead Egypt through a genuine transitional period until a constitution is written and approved. Then we can elect a president."

"This verdict means that Mubarak and El-Adly will be acquitted of the murder of civilians through appeal… The revolution must continue," Youssef later declared on Twitter.

When asked about next month's presidential runoff between last Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafiq and Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi, Youssef responded: "This is a revolution and the people have spoken… No to presidential elections; we must form a presidential council and take over power from the armed forces immediately."

Agreeing with Youssef in theory, Egyptian actor Khaled El-Sawy called on Egyptians to unite, calling on political figures – including eliminated presidential candidates – to "represent the revolution" by establishing a presidential council to assume executive power.

"We must form a presidential council of revolutionary figures, including Mohamed ElBaradei, Hamdeen Sabbahi, Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh and Khaled Ali to lead the nation," El-Sawy said on Twitter.

Egyptian actor Khaled El-Nabawi, meanwhile, also joined the protest in Tahrir Square on Saturday to condemn the verdicts. "We will protest until we win," the actor stated on Facebook.

El-Nabawi had earlier condemned the first-round presidential poll results, saying that he would support neither finalist – Shafiq nor Morsi – in this month's runoff vote.

Egyptian actor Nabil El-Halafawi also issued calls for "a revolutionary council to save Egypt before it's too late."

"Protestors must not leave Tahrir Square or any other squares across Egypt until their demands are met," El-Halafawi declared on Twitter. "This is our last chance to form a revolutionary council to oversee the performance of the government, deal with the SCAF [Supreme Council of the Armed Forces], and assume power to lead Egypt..."

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