(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: This was no mirage, it was one of the most stirring and most hopeful events of resent years. A people rising. A dictator falling. A nation, reaching for a new era of freedom. It all seemed so real.
Two months later, Cairo, a city that has seen so many centuries of rulers, and revolutions and conquers, Cairo has returned to its ancient rhythms and ways, but a shadow has fallen across the city, across the hope of those heady revolutionary days.
Eight days ago, violent crashes erupted in Tahrir Square which was the center of the region which was the center of the revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, but this time protesters were targeting the military government that took hit place and promised a transition to democracy. Two were killed, dozens injured. It was an ominous sign of increasing frustration with the change of pace here. And there are other disturbing signs.
He was charged with insulting the army.
MAGED MAHER, ACTIVIST: Yes. Criticizing the army, most of time, considered as insulting.
MORAN: But I thought you had a revolution here?
MAHER: I thought the same.
MORAN: Maged Maher is an activist and a good friend of the imprisoned blogger, Michael Nabil, whose case has become a human rights flash point here.
Nabil was hauled to a military court last month and sentenced to three years in prison for what he wrote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not free yet. We went to streets and we shouted loudly that we want freedom. If people go to jail, because of expressing an opinion, so we don't have it yet.
MORAN: So a question hangs over Egypt and the answer to it matters to the whole world.
Are you free today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are free. And we are to create the system now.
MORAN: Abdel Rahman Yousuf (ph) is a poet. And he was one of the more prominent activists in the revolution.
We first met him when he was camped out in Tahrir Square during the protests. We returned to the square with him on Friday. A few protesters were there, urging national unity. The biggest security presence was the traffic cops.
And we found Yousef (ph) is still cautiously optimistic like so many Egyptians we met. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are free people but we want to be a free nation.
MORAN: It matters so much because Egypt with 85 million people and ancient culture have long been the center of gravity of the whole Arab world. The fall of Hosni Mubarak here helped to light the fires of revolt in country after country.
Gas prices, the dangers of terrorism, relations between Islam and the west, it's all riding on these revolutions. And it turns out, revolution is hard and tricky work, even, perhaps especially in Egypt.
The real question in this country is did they have a revolution or a coupe? The military has power but so do the people and the protesters here. And the situation right now is a delicate, sometimes tense balance between the guns of soldiers and demands of the people.
WAEL GHONIM, GOOGLE EXECUTIVE: I don't think Secretary Clinton was right about the comment of the revolution becoming a mirage.
MORAN: Wael Ghonim, an Egyptian executive with Google is a leader. He helped organize it on Facebook and other social media and he was imprisoned by Mubarak's regime during the protests. Today he too wants to give the military the benefit of the doubt.