Egyptians riot over Mubarak verdict

Angry Egyptians took to the streets on Saturday night, protesting the life sentence given former President Hosni Mubarak by a court that tried him for the murder of protestors and corruption.


Egyptians demonstrated throughout the night in Cairo's central Tahrir Square and other cities, enraged that a court had spared deposed leader Hosni Mubarak his life over the killing of protesters in the uprising that ended his three-decade rule.

The vote is seen as the last step in a transition from military rule to civilian government.

Many wanted death for Mubarak, who was handed a life prison sentence on Saturday.

They saw the sentence and the acquittal of senior police officers as proof that the old regime still wields influence and feared Mubarak could now be acquitted on appeal.

Some demanded that the country's presidential election be cancelled.

Thousands of people poured onto the streets on Saturday after the verdict. By Sunday morning, a few hundred were still gathered in Tahrir Square -- focal point of the January 2011 uprising that brought down the longtime U.S. ally - and said they would stay until those killed in the uprising were avenged.

"This was not a fair verdict and there is mass rejection of the judge's ruling," said one protester, Amr Magdy. "Tahrir will fill up again with protesters. In Egypt the only way you can get any justice is by protesting because all the institutions are still controlled by Mubarak figures."

The long-awaited Mubarak verdict deepened fear among many pro-democracy campaigners that recent developments are reversing Egypt's emergence from decades of autocratic rule.

Many of the young liberal and left-wing revolutionaries who began the uprising were dismayed when their own candidates lost the first round of the presidential election last month.

The Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Mursi, may call for the cancellation of the presidential runoff election scheduled for later this month. Mursi knows he's losing to Mubarak's former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, largely the result of a backlash against the Brotherhood's accumulation of power over the last few months. It is doubtful the military will agree to a delay given that Shafiq is believed to have strong ties to officers who served Mubarak.

Sharia or autocratic rule? That would seem to be the choice facing Egyptians.


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