I went back to Tahrir Square today to see the continuing protests against the fact that the post-Mubarak government is still headed by and includes key members of the old Mubarak regime. Today the demo was still peaceful, but you can feel the protesters’ frustration mounting toward the military council now ruling the country.
I had a unique vantage point, on the ninth floor of an apartment building overlooking the square. The apartment belongs to Pierre Sioufi, a large bear of a man with wild grey hair; he opened his large and winding flat during those historic eighteen days to the Facebook “kids’ who organized the protests, so they could rest and recover. The lucky journalists who got there could look down from his large balcony on the amazing sight of tens of thousands, or even millions gathered below.
The tens of thousands gathered today were chanting "Mubarak left the palace, but Shafiq still governs Egypt,” referring to Ahmad Shafiq, the former air force commander who is now prime minister. Shafiq was initially disdainful of the demonstrators who first gathered on Jan 25, saying he would send them bonbons and "let them have their Hyde Park.” In reality, the military is the real power now; a new standoff is developing between Egyptians who fear Shafiq (and the military) want to restore the old order and the generals in charge.
Sitting behind his desk and computer, flanked by jammed book shelves and chain-smoking, Sioufi told me, “We have to get rid of the remnants of the old regime. We have to close their opportunities to distribute money and favors, so they will lose support. The old dinosaurs of the regime are still there.”