News / Africa

Braving Scorching Heat, Egyptians Rally to Press for Reforms

Protesters gather in front of a stage in Tahrir Square, July 15, 2011
Protesters gather in front of a stage in Tahrir Square, July 15, 2011

Several thousand people gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square for another protest after mid-day prayers Friday, but the numbers were nowhere near the ‘million-man march’ some activists had called for, or the tens of thousands who came out last Friday.

A small group marching around the Tahrir Square chanted, “We are not tired of protesting. Freedom is not free.” And referring to the former regime of ex-President Hosni Mubarak they said, “We have removed the head but the tail remains.”

Al Pessin's Cairo report:

The chants reflect the feelings of the relatively small but dedicated group that continues to come to the square to push for faster reforms, especially open trials for former regime officials and police officers accused of killing demonstrators.

In the center of the square, tents house several hundred people who have been involved in a week-long sit-in. They say they will stay until their demands are met. A few say they have been on a hunger strike for the past week.

One of the hunger strikers argues with a senior opposition politician who has come to try to convince them to end the strike.

Osama al-Ghazali Harb speaks to protesters on Tahrir Square, July 15, 2011
Osama al-Ghazali Harb speaks to protesters on Tahrir Square, July 15, 2011

Ossama al-Ghazali Harb, head of the Democratic Front, tells the man the hunger strikers have captured the attention of the nation and helped rekindle the protests, and he promises to carry their message to the ruling military council.

Later, Harb tells VOA why the protesters returned to this square, and others around the country, five months after they forced the end of the nearly 30-year tenure of Mubarak.

“After five months, nothing happened. This is what is the main cause of this anger and this re-gathering in the square," said Harb. "They want some concrete results of the revolution. All that happened is they got rid of Mubarak, but the regime continues. The people understand what revolution means.  Revolution means radical change in the system. Where is this radical change?”

In a tent not far away, Sherif al-Rouby, a leader of another opposition group, the April 6 Movement, acknowledges that the interim government has done some things to respond to the protesters demands, including firing more than 600 senior police officers and promising a cabinet shakeup by next week.

He said the 25 main opposition groups recognize that the government has made some new promises, but he says they have agreed that the sit-in and the protests will continue until they see action.

He called for an open trial for Mubarak, a ban on military trials for civilians, a timetable for the end of military rule and a decision on minimum and maximum wage limits.

Protesters gathered around as a young boy, sitting on a man’s shoulders, led them in song.

The boy sings, “Tahrir was a square, now it is the address of martyrs. At Tahrir, the nation made a revolution.”

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