News / Africa

Tens of Thousands Jam Cairo's Main Square Demanding Reforms

Egyptians crowd at Tahrir Square in Cairo, the focal point of the uprising,  to demand justice for victims of Hosni Mubarak's regime and press the new, military rulers for a clear plan of transition to democracy, July 8, 2011
Egyptians crowd at Tahrir Square in Cairo, the focal point of the uprising, to demand justice for victims of Hosni Mubarak's regime and press the new, military rulers for a clear plan of transition to democracy, July 8, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Al Pessin

Tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered Friday in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and several other towns to call for faster reforms and to protest this week's jail release of police officers and former government ministers.  These were among the largest demonstrations since the 18-day revolution in January and February.

Related video - Quicktake: Cairo Protests

One group of protesters chanted for retaliation against former regime members and police officers who attacked protesters in January and February.  But mostly it was a festive crowd, complete with a football-field-length Egyptian flag, tee shirt and hat salesmen and children with Egyptian flags painted on their faces.

“We are here today to continue our revolution,” said Ahmed Ali.  Ali is a young worker who restores ancient monuments and says he has been at many of the Tahrir Square protests.  "The killers are free now, out of jail.  They killed our children. They killed our brothers.  They killed our fathers. Show us justice!"

VOA's Susan Yackee speaks with Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, about how the Arab Spring is evolving:

Ali and others on the square say they came out to protest the acquittal and release of ministers from the former government who had been accused of corruption, and the decision to grant bail to police officers accused of killing protesters in the town of Suez in January.

Dr. Nagham Omar says people like herself who want real reform cannot simply expect the interim government to deliver it.

OMAR: “The revolution started two months ago or three months ago but it didn’t finish. We are the ones who did it so we must care for it until the end.  
PESSIN: "What do you hope will be the result of today’s event?"
OMAR: "Today?  Nothing will come out. But we must push.”

Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa in Cairo, Egypt's Tahrir Square, July 8, 2011
Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa in Cairo, Egypt's Tahrir Square, July 8, 2011

Former Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa, who just stepped down as secretary general of the Arab League, made a brief visit to the square.

Moussa, who is expected to run for the Egyptian presidency, told VOA such protests are needed to ensure the revolution will succeed in the long run.

“I’m so proud to be among the people and to be received with enthusiasm by the people," Moussa said.  "And we want change, and we want to move on.  We want to have prosperity, stability, democracy and the voice of the people.”

At least one woman on the square had a particularly personal reason to be there.  Arzak Abdel Halim’s son Ahmed was killed during the January protests.  She came out Friday with her two young daughters, and spoke through the veil of her black abaya, decorated with an Egyptian-flag headband.  She says people started to change after the revolution, to be closer to God and perhaps to achieve freedom.

Another veiled woman, who identified herself only as Basma, said she was there for justice.  “We want to be like Switzerland.  We want to be like Europe," Basma said.  "We got tired of despotism.  We will not get Egypt on a silver platter, but after lots of hard work, we will achieve that.”

On a plastic chair at a make-shift tea shop in the middle of Tahrir Square, a long-time critic and three-time prisoner of the former regime, Professor Saad Eddin Ibrahim, couldn’t suppress a smile as he looked around him. Ibrahim said protests like this one fulfill his lifelong dream of real “people power” in Egypt.

“It is needed to remind all concerned that the revolutionary spirit is still high, and people are still determined to see concrete measures of change,” Ibrahim noted.

Professor Ibrahim says Friday’s protest was particularly noteworthy because poor people came, and people from the countryside, who, he said, at first saw the revolution as an elitist movement.

Office worker Zakariya Ahmed came with his wife, and held his young daughter in his arms. He said he wants to teach her to be brave and to defend her country.

“How long should I stay in fear?  For how long?  We have been suppressed for 30 years.  And before that our parents were.  So how long should I stay in fear?” Ahmed asked.

Egypt’s transitional leaders appear to recognize the depth of feeling in the streets.   On Thursday, 25 former officials, several of them very senior, were charged with manslaughter and attempted murder for allowing an attack on protesters in February, during which officers rode horses and camels.  In addition, the Interior Minister promised to fire hundreds of police officers and senior commanders connected with attacks on protesters.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid