Cairo, Egypt: President Mubarak's Arrest 'Calmed' the Streets

Weapons of the Libyan Rebellion
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It's a relatively quiet Friday in Cairo so far.

The miltary's move against the Mubarak family worked. It calmed the street. For now.

The arrest of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak and his sons was widely seen as another revolutionary milestone here -- a first in the long history of Egypt: A ruler facing justice.

A few score protesters have gathered in Tahrir Square, which has become a kind of Speakers Corner for this city. As the traffic snakes and snarls and honks by, people chant, holler, proclaim and discuss their opinions. It's a scene full of good feeling, actually, full of natural dignity.

And their message today may surprise you: The people and the army are still one.

The idea of President Mubarak on trial is deeply stirring to Egyptians, and a lot rides on what happens next. If the trial is a vicious farce, like Saddam Hussein's trial, it will damage this revolution. But people here seem to want true justice, and President Mubarak's arrest and his (fair) trial can be, it is hoped, a cornerstone of a new Egypt.

While human rights activists can point to specific and disturbing violations by the military government here -- especially the case of blogger Mikeil Nabil, sentenced to three years in prison for "insulting the military"-- most people still seem willing to give this awkward process towards democracy more time, and give the generals the benefit of the doubt. For now.

The bottom line: The military has power. But so do the people in the street. And there is a tricky, sometimes tense balance between the guns of the soldiers and the demands of the people.

So it wasn't really the military that arrested President Mubarak. It was the people.

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