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

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

Euro falls after European Central Bank announces a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program More

Saudi King’s Death Clears Succession Route

Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef is Saudi Arabia's New Crown Prince-in-waiting More

Cloud Hangs Over US Counterterrorism Efforts in Yemen

Sources say resignations of Yemen's president, government has left US anti-terror operations 'paralyzed,' yet an American military 'footprint' remains 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid