Tuesday, July 12, 2011

In Tahrir Square the anger is growing again. Where is the revolution the crowds fought for?

Graffiti in Cairo: Field Marshal Sheikh Tantawi
Photo courtesy of Hossam El-Hamalawy

Mubarak may be gone, but the new order is floundering. In Cairo, Robert Fisk finds fury returning as people still demand change

By Robert Fisk in Cairo
Tuesday, 12 July 2011

"Something has gone badly wrong with the Egyptian revolution. The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – just what the "Supreme" bit means is anyone's guess – is toadying up to middle-aged Muslim Brothers and Salafists, the generals chatting to the pseudo-Islamists while the young, the liberal, poor and wealthy who brought down Hosni Mubarak are being ignored. The economy is collapsing...

"We've got sick of the Military Council which is using the same tools as Mubarak," Fahdi Philip, 26, a veterinary student from Cairo University, tells me as we sit amid the summer heat. "The judgements on the guilty are slow in coming. The state of insecurity is still with us."

Too true. Almost 900 civilians were killed by Egypt's state security police and snipers during the revolution and only one policeman has been tried – in absentia....

But no sooner do I open my morning newspapers in Cairo – free-spoken, they are at last, unfettered, largely bankrupt – that I espy a colour photograph of Field Marshal Tantawi appointing a new "Minister of Information", a former opposition politician but information minister just the same – only months after the same Tantawi had announced the total scrapping of the information ministry.

No problem, the authorities said, this was only to help the press fulfil its "democratic" duties before the ministry would again be shut down....

Each Thursday/Friday weekend, the figures go up to an average of 50 victims. Among the young in Tahrir Square, this looks like a conspiracy; empty the streets of police and give the people a taste of the chaos they brought upon themselves – and soon they'll want the state security men again....

I meet up with an old Egyptian journalist friend. The staff of the coffee shop come to greet him, to introduce themselves as his fans, to tell him not to stop exposing the corruption of Egyptian life. He is worried. There is talk of a "civil mutiny", he says. Of people who want to burn the police stations again, take over the government or take the law into their own hands by killing specific policemen. There are widespread stories – I heard them myself in Tahrir Square – that youth groups will try to close the Suez Canal unless the security authorities who killed the innocent in January and February are brought to trial....

...Tantawi is worried that the mobs will come for him. But he knows that if Mubarak dies, the Egyptians are a kind people and will largely forgive him because he was a soldier and he was so old, and there will be a period of calm".

The advantage of the revolution, it seems, was that it had no leaders, no one to arrest. But its disadvantage, too, was that it had no leaders, no one to take responsibility for the revolution once it was over. "

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