Egyptian military regime slammed for massive repressions

Thousands of Egyptians have gathered in the heart of the capital Cairo to express their dissatisfaction at the way their country is being run post-Mubarak.

At least 4000 people rallied today in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protests that deposed President Hosni Mubarak in February, under the banner "Reclaiming the Revolution." Similar protests took place in Alexandria and other Egyptian cities, amid growing fears that the military council governing the country is reverting back to practices used by the Mubarak regime.

Many of those in Tahrir Square came with their faces painted with a crossed-out U-turn sign, indicating to the world – and their leaders – that they will not turn back. An unexpected but much-welcome supporter was American actor Sean Penn, who joined the protesters with an Egyptian flag and words of encouragement.

Public anger is accompanied by threats from dozens of political parties to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Do not judge a book by its cover, Egyptians urge overseas observers. When reading “Post-Mubarak Egypt,” look between the lines and you will find that the country’s “new chapter” has not been rewritten, edited, or even slightly revised.

“We still have the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces as the ruling body in this country, and it is constituted of Mubarak’s army generals,” Cairo-based activist and blogger Hossam Hamalawy told RT. “I cannot say that those rulers, in any sense, have been gearing this country towards democracy.”

Mubarak may be gone but his policies are not. And while his case is ongoing at tribunal, new figures from Human Rights Watch claim more civilians – some 12,000 – have been forced to face military trials over the last six months than during the entire 30-year rule of Mubarak.

“On average, civilians are given five to seven years in prison… a lot of torture has occurred since SCAF has come into power,” journalist and activist Gigi Ibrahim explains.

Actor Aly Sobhy does not clown around when it comes to the Supreme Council or SCARF. He has taken part in protests since day one and still has scars from being detained.

“The marks were much worse. I used to have very long hair. They tied me by my hair to a stick and hung me from it. After that I was shocked with a stun gun and beaten with a bat on the head,” he reveals. “I was released only because I’m well-known. Now I'm not allowed to leave the country for 30 years according to law… If I have to, I will seek asylum, but I want to stay and fight for freedom.”

Like Mubarak, SCAF gets the support it needs to rule Egypt from abroad.

“The aid that we get – the US $1.5 billion a year that Egypt receives from the USA – most of it goes to the Supreme Council, to the army, to SCAF,” Gigi Ibrahim says.

And progress on human rights has come to a stop or even gone into reverse since the “new” regime took over.

“In many human rights areas, it is the same as before January 25, and in others it’s getting worse,” a Cairo-based human rights activist Ramy Raoof told RT.

According to the UK Prime Minister David Cameron, “the Arab Spring is a massive opportunity to spread peace, prosperity, democracy.” But, while the West boasts that the history books will record a change for the better, Egyptians are left reading the writing on the wall.