Egyptian anti-Mubarak protesters stage a demonstration after hearing the verdict of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at Abdel Munim Riyad square in Cairo, Egypt on 29 November 2014.
CAIRO, Egypt — After an Egyptian judge on Saturday dismissed charges against former President Hosni Mubarak over the killing of protesters during the 2011 revolution, more than 1,000 people demonstrated near Tahrir Square where the uprising first took place.
There were reports that at least one person was killed during clashes between security forces and protesters, and that authorities had arrested scores of people.
While rights activists and many younger liberals were disappointed by the verdict, police quickly clamped down on demonstrators, firing teargas into the crowds and arresting scores of people.
“This is what happens when a regime tries itself — It acquits itself," said Wael Eskander, a prominent blogger, journalist and researcher at EIPR, a Cairo based human rights NGO. "The verdict [had] to absolve Mubarak because everyone in the current regime is implicated."
The uproar about th Mubarak verdict wasn't just on twitter today.— Wael Eskandar (@weskandar) November 29, 2014
Demonstrations erupted in Cairo in 2011, with people protesting the country's social inequality, police brutality and widespread government corruption. But while the protesters who gathered on Tahrir Square managed to depose Mubarak, their hopes for a more democratic society were thwarted when Abdel Fattah Sisi, a military general, took power earlier this year.
News of the decision held little surprise for rights activists who have little faith in Egypt's judicial process.
"Sisi is one of the men of Mubarak," said Mahienour El Massry, a prominent activist and human rights lawyer. "How can he condemn Mubarak? He was part of the regime."
Since Sisi took power, authorities have begun cracking down on any sign of dissent. Journalists, activists and civilians have been arrested and jailed in sweeping police raids. And officials from the former regime have begun to return to political power.
At least 40,000 people have been arrested since June last year, according to Wikitharwa, a non profit rights organization.
So Mubarak is free but the @alJazeera journalists remain in prison just for doing their jobs. http://t.co/0dVjBWAYmjpic.twitter.com/Uhxg9JIdNz— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) November 30, 2014
Mubarak and Sisi "are two faces of the same coin,” said Amal Sharaf, co-founder of the 6th of April movement, a group that was crucial in organizing the protests that brought Mubarak down. "They are all from the same gang."
Along with Mubarak, charges were also dropped against his interior minister and six aides over the deaths of almost 900 demonstrators. According to Al Jazeera, the judge said the court couldn't rule on the charges since too much time had elapsed since the alleged crimes took place.
In 2011, 846 people were killed during fighting across the country. Most of the protesters were killed by the national Egyptian police force. But few officials have been held accountable.
“We went to Tahrir in order to put Mubarak behind bars," said The Big Pharaoh, a prominent Egyptian blogger. "Today, the verdict actually showed that [justice] will never be served.”
He and others described the verdict as the symbolic end to the Arab Spring.
Mubarak acquitted, Libya a mess after its dictator was killed, Tunisians will vote for former regime. Arab Spring till now is just a dream.— The Big Pharaoh (@TheBigPharaoh) November 29, 2014
“Nothing has changed," he said.
Prior to the Mubarak announcement, the army had mobilized around the country, placing troops and Armored Personnel Carriers throughout heavily trafficked urban areas and planned protest sites.
After the verdict was announced, more than 1,000 people gathered near Tahrir Square, chanting revolutionary slogans and calling for the downfall of the regime.
The situation in Egypt is bad, said Sharaf. "But we will continue. The people who died during the revolution deserve that we will continue."
Tags: EGYPT, HOSNI MUBARAK, TAHRIR, U.S., US & World