Tents were erected in the traffic circle at the square’s center, and stages were built for speakers, reminiscent of the winter days when masses of people refused to leave central Cairo until Mubarak was ousted.
Demonstrations were peaceful Friday, 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 tried and 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 Friday’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.
On Thursday, 25 officials from Mubarak’s government were charged with manslaughter, attempted murder and assault in connection with an organized attack in February in which men charged the crowd in Tahrir Square on horses and camels. The accused include the speakers of both houses of parliament and lawmakers from Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, as well as businesspeople and former cabinet ministers.
But many Egyptians said Friday that those measures are not enough, adding that they are determined to resurrect the revolution. People gathered in the square for the weekly
communal noon prayers, bowing and prostrating themselves in unison. “All hands are one hand, we are all one hand,” the imam, or prayer leader, said. He then called for justice to be done.
Volunteers searched those entering the square for weapons, and people chanted, sang and called for justice as vendors sold juice, tea and revolutionary trinkets.
Some had brought hard hats just in case stone-throwing and clashes broke out.