The acquittal of top six police officers, who were in charge to suppress the 18-day uprising appears to have overshadowed the life sentence that has been served by an Egyptian court on former strongman Hosni Mubarak and his Interior Minister Habib Al-Adly for their complicity in the deaths of protesters.
These acquittals coupled with the quashing of a set of corruption charges against Mr. Mubarak's two sons — Alaa and Gamal, appear to have triggered fears among protesters and their allies that forces of counterrevolution are once again gathering momentum. The verdict has come at a time when Egypt is broadly, but unequally divided among those who support the uprising that brought down Mr. Mubarak and others who are pining for a return of relative stability under a refurbished old guard. Many are undecided and stand in-between.
The threat of the possible reversal of the revolution – a possibility if Ahmed Shafiq, a Mubarak-era presidential candidate wins elections against Mohamed Morsy, of the Muslim Brotherhood in the June 16-17 run-off — has lit up the cyberspace as well. Tweeted Gigi Ibrahim, a pro-revolution activist: “[Habib Al] Adly's men out together with Gamal and Alaa under [Ahmed] Shafiq is the nightmare of the revolution.”
Unsurprisingly calls for protests mushroomed as soon as the controversial verdict was out. The Facebook page of We are all Khaled Said, run at one time by Wael Ghoneim, a Google executive, who became one of the icons of the 18-day uprising, exhorted Egyptians to fill the streets and squares to protest Saturday's rulings.
The call was reinforced by other influential figures, chiefly Hamdeen Sabbahi, a neo-Nasserite candidate, who had narrowly missed occupying the second position in the first round of the presidential elections last month. “It is time to realise that taking the streets is the only way to protect our revolution and to get rid of the old regime,” read a statement from Mr. Sabbahi's former campaign team.
From the secularists like Mr. Sabbahi to the ultra-conservative Salafis, the disappointment with Saturday's verdict is palpable.
“Egyptians are filled with anger and disappointment; why weren't El-Adly's aides given the same sentence as their boss,” tweeted Nader Bakkar, the spokesman of the Salafi Al Nour party.
As the call for renewed protests grew louder, hundreds gathered in Tahrir Square chanting: “Invalid! The verdict is invalid”. Some shouted that, “The people demand the execution of Hosni Mubarak.” With the fury of the protesters spiraling, word was out that some among the crowd wanted to torch the Interior Ministry, not far from Tahrir square along the Mohamed Mahmoud Street.
The Tahrir protests were replicated along the cornice in Alexandria where the protesters took on Ahmed Rifat, the Judge who had pronounced the verdict. “Ahmed Rifat, you coward, how much you sold the martyrs' blood for?” chanted the crowds.
Hundreds also assembled at Arbaeen Square, in the city of Suez where the first protester had died during last year's uprising.
The anger against Mr. Mubarak appears to have been reinforced by reports about the former president's cushy lifestyle even when he was being treated in captivity at Cairo's upscale International Medical Center. Reuters is reporting that foreign dignitaries and family had been, with regularity, visiting Mr. Mubarak, who has been a regular user of the hospital swimming pool in order to stay healthy.
By nightfall, the calls for a re-trial of Mr. Mubarak were gathering some momentum. Ahmed Abdel-Ati, the media coordinator for Mr. Morsy promised a retrial of all those who had betrayed the Egyptian people.
Human rights groups were also considering proposing establishing a Truth Commission that would take stock of allegations of rights abuse during Mr. Mubarak's 30-year rule.
Amid the consternation caused by Saturday's verdict, the political landscape appeared to be shifting markedly in favour of Mr. Morsy.
After days of hesitation, former presidential candidate Ayman Nour announced that he would now voter for Mr. Morsy — a sentiment that was likely to grow in other quarters in the pro-revolution camp.