Egypt's 29 July protests finally named: the Friday of unity and popular will

Zeinab El Gundy, Wednesday 27 Jul 2011

Islamist, leftist and liberal groups finally unify set of demands for Friday 29 July protests at Tahrir square

Unity Friday Press conference
Unity Friday Press conference

After weeks of disagreement, no less than 26 parties, movements and groups, including Islamists, leftists and liberals, have reached a set of demands for the upcoming Friday July 29th protests, which will be named 'The Popular Will and Unity Friday'. The agreement was reached yesterday after negotiations between the different political groups, parties and movements. The negotiations were held at Al Shorouk newspaper's Cairo offices with the help of publisher Ibrahim El-Moallam and Rabab El-Mahdy, who both spoke today in a press conference this afternoon about the demands of the political powers participating in the protest.

The demands of the protesters included: Ending military trials for civilians, the re-trial of those prosecuted in military trials, speeding up the trials of protester killers, assigning exclusive courts to ensure quick and just trials of former regime icons, a minimum and maximum limit for wages and a speedy implementation of the treachery act. 

All demands that had caused rifts among the political forces, such as the constitution or the elections first debate and the supra-constitutional principles, were sidelined completely.

Next Friday's protests will feature a committee representing all the parties, movements and groups participating in the protest. Unlike previous protests, there will be no single podium for a single group; all the podiums will represent all the political movements from liberals and leftists to Islamists. There will be a united coordination between the different groups to secure the square. 

In related news, the martyrs’ families at Tahrir square also re-issued a statement they had released last Friday, but it was generally ignored by mainstream media. In the statement, the martyrs’ families make it clear that they will continue their own sit in until their rights are restored. The statement outlined seven demands, including: The arrest of officers accused of killing martyrs in order to prevent them from influencing witnesses (as well as tampering with evidence and blackmailing both the families and witnesses), speedily referring the remaining killing of protesters cases to criminal courts and setting up teams of credible prosecutors to investigate the cases. 

The families also demanded that the ministry of interior issue an official statement, to the Egyptian people generally and the martyrs’ families specifically, recognizing the protesters as martyrs not thugs, setting up a permanent committee comprised of the martyrs families, their lawyers and members of the Cabinet and general prosecution to facilitate overcoming the obstacles facing the trials, and to broadcast the trials live on TV without judicial permission. The families also demanded the martyrs be honored, in equal standing with war martyrs, and the dismissal of the minister of interior and the general prosecutor. 

The martyrs' families are extremely angry with those claiming that they are using the martyrs for monetary gain, insisting that money is the last thing they are thinking about and that if it were about the money they would have accepted the offers from the accused police officers to drop the lawsuits. One of member of the martyrs’ families, Mr. Magdy, spoke at the press conference about how he and his family were being blackmailed by the police officer that killed his brother. 

Mr. Magdy spoke about how ministry of interior and ministry of justice officials made it clear to his family that they cannot suspend the officers accused of killing protesters, and how they ought to seek their own justice, if the judiciary, which they criticized and called corrupt, was unable to help them.

There are no less than 500 families participating in the current sit in at Tahrir square, taking shifts. They have no intention of ending their sit in any time soon.  

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