Tens of thousands of Egyptians braved scorching summer heat to hold one of their biggest protests in months Friday, filling streets in Cairo and other cities to demand trials for members of Hosni Mubarak's regime and express frustration with the slow pace of change.
The exhilaration of Mubarak's ouster on Feb. 11 after 18-days of mass protests has yielded to widespread frustration that "the revolution" has stalled. The economy remains sluggish and many are confused about what comes next. Some demanding that the country's military rulers, who took power after Mubarak, push back parliamentary elections set for September because most political factions are not ready.
Many complain that although Mubarak and many hated figures under him have lost power, the key elements of his regime remain in the judiciary, the police and the civil service.
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Doubts have also begun to grow about the council of ruling generals, which has faced protests and riots for what some see as its reluctance to prosecute police and former regime officials accused of complicity in the killing of nearly 900 protesters during the uprising.
"The military council is being wishy-washy," said protester Mohammed al-Tayyib in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the uprising that toppled Mubarak. "No one is being brought to trial and nothing is moving."
Earlier this week, seven policemen in the city of Suez were freed on bail during their trial for the killing of the protesters. Their release set off two days of riots by angry families who accused the judiciary of corruption. Other former regime officials were acquitted on corruption charges, also raising the ire of many.
"Things are going in the wrong direction," said protester Lilian Wagdy. She complained of the many civilians convicted by military courts while trials of security officials are often postponed or release the accused.
In scenes reminiscent of the 18-day uprising, civilian checkpoints were erected around Tahrir to prevent thugs from mixing in with demonstrators and potentially causing violence since there were no police or military in the area.
Banners fluttered in the wind and a large white cloth had the words "Retribution from the killers of martyrs" painted on it. Flyers read: "Real cleansing. Real government. Real trials."
Egypt's Health Ministry said ambulances carried 54 people from the square by mid-afternoon, most of them suffering from heat exhaustion.
With the rally, dubbed "Friday of Accountability," organizers were seeking to restore some unity in Egypt's protest movement, which has fragmented since Mubarak's fall. The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's most organized political group, and ultraconservative Salafis decided to join the protests after staying away from others in past weeks.
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