(Updates with protester chants in third paragraph, comment in fifth. See EXTRA and MET for more on Middle East unrest.)
July 8 (Bloomberg) -- Egyptians took to the streets to demand the justice system hold trials more quickly of former officials and policemen accused of killing protesters in the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak five months ago.
Thousands of people poured into central Cairo’s Tahrir Square, returning to the focus of the protests against Mubarak’s regime. Activists, youth groups and political parties, including the April 6 Youth Movement and the Muslim Brotherhood, called for demonstrations across Egypt to also demand the purging of alleged rogue police officers by the Interior Ministry.
“We will continue the fight,” thousands of protesters in the square chanted today. “The people want fair trials,” they said on a banner. Pictures of protesters killed during the demonstrations that ousted Mubarak were displayed in the square.
The trials of former Interior Minister Habib el-Adli and several police officers accused of killing protesters during the uprising have been postponed, causing resentment and anger among the families of the dead as well as political activists. Mubarak ceded interim power to a military council.
“We don’t feel that the regime has changed,” said Khaled Abdel Hamid, an activist and a member of the Popular Alliance Party. “We are calling for speedy, transparent and open trials for members of the former regime, and for the purging of the police force and the state-owned media.”
Promoting a ‘Revolution’
The protests were promoted on Facebook with the slogan, “the revolution first -- real trials, real purging, real government,” highlighting the organizers’ aim to unite political groups over a common set of demands.
“The revolution is not over yet, so we have keep fighting and reminding ourselves and others what this is about,” said Dina Sharnouby, a graduate student at the American University in Cairo. “It’s about the killing of the martyrs, about social justice and the rights of workers.”
The Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s biggest opposition group, reversed its position and announced it would take part in today’s protests to secure “the public interest of the country and the people” and “to protect the revolution.”
The group cited the slow progress of trials and the release of accused police officers, which activists say allowed some of them to tamper with evidence and pressure the families of those killed to drop cases against them.
The Brotherhood said it will organize demonstrations until “justice prevails, each one takes his rights and each criminal gets his punishment and the demands of the people’s revolution for which they paid blood are fulfilled.”
The April 6 Youth Movement distributed 500,000 leaflets across the country to mobilize people for the protest, said Mohammed Adel, the group’s spokesman.
“The ruling military council is trying to make it seem as if the revolution is over,” Adel said. “But the protest will be a message that nobody could contain or control the revolution. The achievements and justice were slow. A revolution means full change and any compromise means the end of it.”
At least 846 people were killed in the demonstrations that started Jan. 25 and culminated with Mubarak ceding interim authority to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces on Feb. 11.
Activists from The April 6 Youth Movement today distributed leaflets to protesters at the square asking them to evaluate the performance of the military council and the current Egyptian government since Mubarak was ousted, Al Jazeera TV reported.
--With assistance from Caroline Alexander in London. Editors: Heather Langan, Karl Maier
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