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Thousands of Egyptians from different backgrounds and affiliations took to the iconic Tahrir Square on Tuesday to call for the application of the Political Isolation Law against presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq and a retrial in the Mubarak case, in which six top security officials were acquitted of killing protesters during the 25 January uprising.
The protest grew throughout the day as a number of marches from all over Cairo led by parliamentarians, former presidential hopefuls, revolutionaries and movements including the Muslim Brotherhood joined the demonstration.
The Health Ministry said that a total number of seven people have been injured during Tuesday's demonstrations, six of whom were transferred to hospitals for treatment and are all in good condition. The head of the Egyptian Ambulance Authority, Ahmed al-Ansari, said that most of the people suffered from low blood pressure and fainting, while two other people suffered minor injuries.
A group of parliamentarians marched to Tahrir after People’s Assembly Speaker Saad al-Katatny decided to end the evening session to allow members to join the ongoing demonstration.
Independent MP Hamdy al-Fakhrany was among those who submitted a request to end the session early, Katatny said. The march included Freedom and Justice Party MP Mohamed al-Beltagy, Social Democratic Party MP Zyad Elelaimy and Salafi Asala Party MP Mamdouh Ismail, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.
Beltagy confirmed to Al-Masry Al-Youm the necessity of “retrials [in the Mubarak case] and enforcing the Political Isolation Law,” and added that Morsy’s Nahda (Renaissance) Project is capable of achieving the goals and aspirations of the Egyptian people.
A march led by former presidential hopefuls Hamdeen Sabbahi and Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh also marched to Tahrir from a mosque in the Mohandiseen neighborhood of Cairo.
The protesters carried signs reading, “No elections without the exclusion” and chanted against Shafiq and against the military council that they believe supports him.
“Listen to us Shafiq, it seems you like to be insulted,” and “If you're asking, ‘Why Shafiq,’ the field marshal brought him with his own hands,” chanted the crowd.
“The exclusion law is the first thing; it's unacceptable that Mubarak's man who doesn't even acknowledge us [the revolutionaries] participates in the first election after the revolution,” said housewife Hanan Hassan as she took part in the protest.
Some protesters called for a presidential council to take over power while others said that this is still under negotiation and the most important thing is to exclude Shafiq from the race.
Activists from the April 6 Youth Movement and the Revolutionary Socialists, as well as members of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, joined the march.
The protesters found the current crisis an ideal time for the people to unite. “Let's go to the square, one hand just like the old times,” the protesters chanted referring to the first 18 days of the revolution when all sectors of society united to overthrow Mubarak.
“The military council confronted us with two candidates that we don't want, thinking that they'll force us to choose the one they want; instead they have revived the revolution in the street,” said Samir Hamad, a member of the Popular Committees to Protect the Revolution.
Sabbahi, the second runner up in the first phase of the election, received a hero's welcome, lifted up on shoulders as the crowd chanted, “Here is the president.”
Sabbahi and Abouel Fotouh demonstrated their newly forged unity by standing on a van and holding up their joined fists. Some in the crowd, however, saw the gesture as coming too late.
“Now they're uniting,” smirked one of the protesters, to which another responded, “Don't remind me, god forgive us all.”
Failed attempts to convince Abouel Fotouh and Sabbahi to run on the same ticket could have changed the course of the election entirely, as they garnered 40 percent of votes in the first round between the two of them.
The Socialist Popular Alliance Party slammed the Muslim Brotherhood in a statement released Tuesday evening, accusing it of riding the new revolutionary wave for the sake of its presidential candidate in the runoff.
Thousands of protesters led by former presidential candidate Khaled Ali marched from Fatah Mosque in Ramses Square to Tahrir.
The demonstrators chanted, “We swear by the blood of the martyrs to start another revolution,” “Down with military rule,” and “The people demand to purge the judiciary.” They carried banners saying, “The ousted regime is rebuilding itself” and “Down with [Field Marshal Hussein] Tantawi.”
Thousands of Ultras Ahlawy members joined protesters in Tahrir after a march from Zamalek neighborhood.
Hundreds of demonstrators organized a march from Istiqama Mosque in Giza to Tahrir, carrying banners reading, “No to remnants of the ousted regime,” “Down with military rule” and “Egypt is a state, not a military camp.”
Scores of protesters from Cairo University joined the march.
Hundreds of activists from the April 6 Youth Movement and the Revolutionary Socialists had earlier led marches from several squares in Giza to Tahrir. The protesters called for the application of the Political Isolation Law against Shafiq, Mubarak’s last prime minister. The law is currently being considered by the Constitutional Court.
Protesters also demanded that the ousted president be executed, and also chanted slogans including, “The people want the martyrs’ rights” and “Gamal, tell your father that revolutionaries hate you.”
Hundreds of revolutionaries and Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi Dawah members travelled from Kafr al-Sheikh, north of Cairo, to take part in the demonstration in Tahrir.
The spokesperson for Freedom and Justice Party in Kafr al-Sheikh, Ayman Hegazy, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the protesters left for Cairo on Tuesday morning to support the demonstrators in Tahrir.
Several buses carrying thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members from various governorates had earlier arrived at Tahrir to take part in what activists have labeled a million-person protest against the verdicts in the trial of former President Hosni Mubarak and others.
Hundreds of protesters marched around the square, holding banners demanding a retrial for Mubarak, his sons Gamal and Alaa, and former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly.
Popular committees in charge of securing the square’s entrances disappeared as protesters began to flood the iconic traffic circle. By the afternoon, youths had begun collecting barriers to be set up on Talaat Harb Street leading to Tahrir.
On Saturday, a Cairo criminal court sentenced Mubarak and Adly to life in prison for failing to prevent the murder of pro-democracy protesters during the 18-day revolt that forced Mubarak to step down. The court also exonerated six former senior security officials on the same charges.
Mubarak’s two sons and businessman Hussein Salem were found not guilty of separate financial corruption charges.
The Tuesday demonstration also demanded the application of the military government-approved Political Isolation Law, which would prevent Shafiq from competing in the presidential runoff on 16 and 17 June.
Protesters called for the formation of a presidential council comprising prominent pro-revolution figures to replace the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces two weeks before the election is set to take place.
Shafiq and Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsy both reject the idea, saying the winner of the runoff election will be the legitimate president of the country.
Tahrir Square, which was the center of the January 2011 uprising, has seen mass protests since the Mubarak trial verdict was issued.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm