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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs