As if resurrecting its January 25th self, Tahrir Square broke out in a wave of violent protests this week.
Tuesday afternoon began with family members of the Egyptians killed during the revolution calling for quicker justice to be served for their fallen loved ones. According to Time Magazine, the “families had grown frustrated by the slow pace and laxity with which former security officials have been prosecuted for their crimes.” Many of those former officials have yet to be trialed or even taken into custody by police.
However, their demonstration quickly went south when they were confronted by the police. It is unclear what caused the violence to erupt. Unfortunately, it seemed escalate quickly.
"When the clashes started, the activists here in the cafes saw it and started tweeting and facebooking and calling everyone to come down," Mohamed Azazi, a 20-year-old activist and blogger, told Time.
Before long, rocks, tear gas, and rubber bullets were being exchanged between the police and demonstrators. The riots continued into Wednesday afternoon. The Time magazine Cairo correspondent, Abigail Hauslohner, described the scene in detail:
“Crowds of Egyptians trampled over the broken shards of glass and pavement that littered the street outside Cairo's interior ministry. Tear gas lingered in the air, as the remains of burning tires cooled near the lines of military police who had arrived when the regular police made their familiar exit. Traffic moved haltingly through the swarms of spectators. And then there were the vendors who had wheeled in their juice and snack carts to capitalize on the crowds.”
The violence dwindled once the army was dispatched on Wednesday afternoon. No fatalities have been reported, although there have been numerous injuries.
According to The New York Times, Essam Sharaf, Egyptian Prime Minister, declared on state television that the police only used violence in self-defense and to protect public property. He assured his citizens that before the riots took place, Egypt had been moving toward stability. He also stated that a police reform program is now underway.
While the majority of the protesters were advocating justice for their fallen loved ones, most have not signaled a unity in any one agenda. Instead, the riot appeared to be disconnected and fueled by frustration and fear about the uncertainty that has run rampant across the post-revolution country. The country, which once hailed the army as a hero, is growing more and more skeptical and weary of the military-led state.
Egyptians are beginning to wonder if the January revolution, that led to the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak, truly succeeded. Salma Samer, a 23-year-old student, told The New York Times, “This is not what we called for when we took to the streets on January 25th. This is not the revolution we imagined.”
Others see it less as a failure of the revolution and more as a failure to stabilize the country in a timely manner.
“The economy is in tatters, worse than before. The country is in ruins. Of course, people are still protesting,” said Ahmed Safwat, a 26-year-old computer engineer, as quoted by the Times.