Live updates: A blow by blow account of Egypt's 'Friday of Determination'

Ahram Online, Friday 8 Jul 2011

Ahram Online reporters throughout the country provide a blow by blow account of today's nationwide protests, demanding those responsible for the killing of over 1000 peaceful protesters be punished and the police overhauled

July 8 Mai
Tens of thousands gather in Cairo's Tahrir square to join in the 8 July Friday of Determination (Photo: Mai Shaheen)


19:00 As the sun sets on Tahrir square hundreds of thousands are still protesting while others are taking breaks in nearby cafés after a long day in the hot summer sun. While the Muslim Brotherhood announced that the group will not participate in the sit-in other political movements and parties made it clear that they will continue an open strike until the demands of the revolution are met.

The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups that decided to leave the square after 6pm -- at least officially -- marched around the square calling for the unity of all political groups. The march was joined by other protesters as well. Their decision not to participate in the sit-in was not looked at positively by other groups, especially given that a MB speaker also said on that stage that the group fully supports the army and that parliamentary elections should be held first and on schedule in September.

The Supreme Council for Armed Forces was strongly criticized in today's protests, with people chanting that the army is not the SCAF. Also, the political forces participating in today's protests agreed that the debate of 'the constitution vs. the elections first' should be avoided. When the MB made their statement it was met with a lot of criticism, especially from the Revolution's Youth Coalition. However, the tense situation was quickly contained.

In Suez, Alexandria and a number of other cities the call for the sit-in seems to be gaining momentum as well.

In Qayed Ibrahim Square, Alexandria, tens of thousands are still protesting and the corniche road remains blocked.

The Suez Youth Bloc issued a public statement today saying that they will join the sit-in in El Arbaeen square, saying that it will be an open-ended sit-in until all the demands of the revolution are met. The SYB also demands that all the police officers who are accused of killing the protesters on 25 and 28 January be detained. The police officers were released by a court verdict last week causing an uproar in Suez.

Other cities, including Port Said, Asiut and Ismailia, are calling for similar sit-ins.

18:01 The Workers Democratic party officially announce their participation in the sit-in.

18:00 The heat is beginning to let up and more people are joining the protest in Tahrir Square. Families with small children have told Ahram Online that they preferred to join the protesters after sunset.   

17:48 The Muslim Brothers, who said that they will leave the square at 6pm and not 5pm as they had announced earlier, are now marching around the square chanting slogans calling for the unity of all political groups. Ahram Online reporters on the square say Muslim Brotherhood members are already packing up. However, the stage that they are sharing with the National Association for Change is still up. 

17:38 Protesters marching in downtown areas in the thousands around Tahrir Square, including Bab El Louq and Talaat Harb square, are calling on people to join the protest and the sit-in. "Why are you staying home? Did you get all your rights or what?" chant the protesters.

17:45 In the Upper Egyptian city of Asyut thousands of protesters from across the political spectrum have been demonstrating. After Friday prayers protesters gathered at El-Hilali and Omar Makram mosques, as well as the grand mosque, and marched through the streets of the city. Protesters chanted against Field Marshal Huessien Tantawi and Minister of interior Mansour El-Essawi. The chants included: "Tantawi please tell [military council chief of staff Sami] Anan that the revolutionaries are back on the square,” and “Mr. Essawi, what have the martyrs’ families done?” Tents and a podium have been set up in the Omar Makram district near Asyut University, with intention of staging a sit-in.

17:40 According to ShroukNews, protesters gathered in Saad Zaghloul Square in Alexandria have decided to remain in the square for an open ended sit-in despite calls by the Muslim Brotherhood to leave the square.

17:36 The Muslim Brotherhood, who had declared they would not take part in the sit-in, have started to pack up and leave Tahrir, according to our correspondent on the square.

17:15 Members of the Salafi movement and the Gamaa Islamiya in Suez exited the protest at Al Arbaeen square before 5:00pm, joined by many of Muslim Brothers as well. More protesters, however, are joining the protest now after taking a short break from the scorching summer sun.

17:05 A Ministry of Health official has announced that 54 protesters have been given medical care during today’s protests in Tahrir square. He said that 34 of the cases were treated in the square while the rest were transferred to three surrounding hospitals. The protesters were suffering from a variety of ailments including fainting episodes, high temperature, low blood sugar as well as bruises and injuries.

17:00 Chants calling for an open-ended sit-in are echoing throughout Tahrir square. Protesters are calling for a sit-in until the demands of the revolution are met. The Muslim brotherhood had announced yesterday that they will only join the protest and will leave the square at 5pm. Thousands in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Port Said and Asiut have declared their commitment to open-ended sit-ins and are setting up tents in squares around the country.

16:45 In Sohag, hundreds of protesters staged a peaceful demonstration in the Shabab square. Members of the Revolution Youth Coalition and other political forces participated in the march, which set off from El-Gomhoria street, passing through El-Sakafa square and arriving at the City Council building. The demonstrators chanted: “The martyrs come first” and deplored the release of officers accused of killing peaceful citizens during the January 25 Revolution.

16:40 Hundreds demonstrate in the Upper Egyptian industrial city of Naga Hamadi in solidarity with the ongoing “Determination Friday”. Their march set off from El-Awkaf mosque, located south of the city.

16:30 Hundreds of demonstrators in the Upper Egyptian city of Qena march from El-Tahrir mosque and settle at El-Saa square, setting up a tent to protect themselves from the unforgiving sun. Their chants included: “Remnants of the old regime are still in power” and hit out at the ruling military council. They also called for retribution against those who killed the January 25 Revolution martyrs.

16:10 Hundreds rally in Freedom square and march in the streets of the Delta city of Damietta on Friday, calling for the fulfillment of the 25 January revolution’s as yet unmet demands. The protesters include varied political forces, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the Nasserist Party, El-Wafd Party and the 6th of April youth movement. Some of the demonstrators chanted: “Our demands are the same,” and “The interior [ministry] are thugs,” among other anti-establishment slogans.

They also blamed field marshal and de-facto ruler Hussein Tantawi for not taking serious action against policemen and officials implicated in the killing of the revolution’s martyrs. “You [Tantawi] would have been in Tahrir square if your son had been one of the murdered protesters,” the demonstrators repeated.

15:59 Hundreds of protesters in El Gharbiya governorate, including workers of the Mahalla Spinning and Weaving Company, the largest textile mill in the country, various political parties and the Muslim Brotherhood, hit the streets to show their solidarity with Determination Friday. The protesters are demanding that Minister of Interior Mansour El Eissawy be removed and that all members of the old regime stand swift trials. In the city of Mahalla El Kobra protesters marched from El Bandar square to Revolution square, carrying banners reading: “Watch out! The revolution is losing steam.”

In the city of Tanta, protesters marched from El Sayed Badawy square to the Governorate’s office chanting: “We are fed up with injustice.”

15:55 Activists in Alexandria have are concluding their logistical groundwork for an open-ended sit-in to be held in downtown Alexandria’s Saad Zaghloul square and the environs of the Qaed Ibrahim Mosque, according to Ahram Online’s correspondent in the coastal city. Several large tents have been erected by the National Council, while the Campaign in support of possible presidential candidate, Mohamed Elbaradei have erected two tents, and the Revolution Youth Coalition two more. The Free Egyptian Party, founded by business tycoon Naguib Sawiris has erected three internet-connected tents for the use of reporters covering the sit-in.

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists, who had initially declared their boycott of today’s protest, then changed position and joined, have announced that they will not join the sit-in, either in Alexandria or anywhere else in the country.

15:30 Hundreds of protesters gather before the International Sharm El-Sheikh Hospital, where ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is held captive pending trial, as a myriad of protests are staged across the nation.The demonstrators called for Mubarak’s departure, saying he must not reside in the coastal resort after being referred to a criminal court on charges of ordering the killing of peaceful protesters during the 25 January Revolution. The demonstration was staged shortly after the Friday prayers and threatened to start a sit-in until Mubarak is incarcerated in prison along with other figures of the former regime.

“We will not live in happiness until Mubarak is out [of Sharm El-Sheikh]” was one of the slogans chanted. Military forces have been heavily deployed in front of the hospital to prevent possible penetration attempts. According to eyewitnesses, other protesters from different cities in Sinai will soon join the protest.

15:00 Hundreds of thousands of protesters are marching across Alexandria, carrying mock nooses with hanging dummies of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, former Minister of Interior Habib El Adly and officials from the ministry of interior who have not been removed from their positions after the revolution, including Khaled Shalaby, the head of criminal prosecution.

14:45 Ramy Essam, or “the singer of the revolution” as he is now known, is performing on one of the stages in Tahrir Square. "Down with military rule," sings Essam; the crowd repeats.

14:30 At the Luxor Temple on the banks of the Nile in the Upper Egyptian city of Luxor (ancient Thebes), another 2000 protesters stage a demonstration in solidarity with the ongoing mass protest in Tahrir Square. What a Friday indeed! Lower and Upper Egypt are clamouring with the sounds of revolutionary fervour.

14:20 About 12,000 protesters have congregated in El-Saa Square in the governorate of Damanhour, holding signs reading: “revolution first,” “no to delaying of the trials of those who murdered the martyrs” and “Tantawi put Mubarak on trial.” The protesters in Damanhour include members of several political parties, including: the liberal El-Ghad Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, the leftist Tagammu Party, the Islamist Wasat Party and the liberal Free Egyptians Party.

14:20 Activists are now gathering to surround and secure the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square against any attempts at subversion or theft. There are no police or military forces protecting the museum. During the 18 day occupation of Tahrir square leading up to the ouster of Mubarak, thugs, believed to have been working with the police, attacked the museum with Molotov Cocktails, while others broke into it and vandallised several priceless antiquities.

14:15 The Armed Forces in Suez are distributing water to the protesters. One protester stands on a military van and chants: "the Army is ours, but the SCAF is theirs." A few minutes earlier, military personnel fired rounds into the air as they approached the square to arrest thugs detained by the protesters. The mood grew tense, as some thought the army was trying to break-up the sit-in. The situation was soon contained.

14:10 Speaking from Tahrir Square, Judge Mahmoud El-Khodeiry, former head of the Court of Cassation, tells Ahram Online that he decided to join today’s protest because he did not feel any real change had taken place, adding that the Egyptian people have been “deceived.” The judge stressed that Egypt now needs a new revolution after various political movements and forces focused on only achieving their individual interests, seeking only the presidency and seats in parliament. He urged the Egyptian people to unite in order to achieve all their demands, emphasising that they must start an open ended sit-in in Tahrir Square and squares across Egypt.

14:00 A march, organised by university professors, reaches Tahrir. The professors began their march in Dokki, Giza where they met outside the professors' club. The protesters are chanting against police brutality and are calling for the independence of Egyptian universities.

University professors at a number of institutions, including Cairo University and Ain Shams University, began a sit-in 4 July, demanding the immediate replacement of deans and university chairmen whom they consider to be remnants of the old regime.

13:50 Protesters in Suez arrested an unidentified person who shot bullets into the air from a nearby place, wounding one person. He was soon handed over to the military police. Earlier, four other suspect individuals were handed to the military police by the popular committees organising the protest.

13:40 Protesters in Alexandria are blocking the Corniche road. Thousands have assembled at the Qaed Ibrahim Mosque,chanting and demanding retribution for the martyrs. Some are marching towards Sidi Gaber, a neighbouring district.

13:35 In Mohandeseen’s Mostafa Mahmoud Square, where the supporters of toppled president Hosni Mubarak rallied over the past months, the streets have remained deserted since the early hours of Friday.

13:29 The day is proving unbearably hot and humid. Makeshift clinics are receiving several cases of people suffering from dehydration and sun strokes. Many are laying down in the shade; others are distributing water to the protesters. Street cafés around the square are full of activists taking short breaks to return to the square. One activist joked: The people demand the square be airconditioned.

13:25 A march by the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions has reached Tahrir Square, led by Kamal Abu Aitta, political activist and one of the founders of the post-revolutionary trade union federation. Abu Aitta said that all independent tradde unions will participate in open-ended sit-in in Tahrir Square. He added that the Egyptian people have to fight until all the demands of the revolution are met and not allow anyone to hijack it. He stressed the need to achieve social justice, the prosecution of all corrupt figures of the old regime, and the establishment of a full democracy.

13:05 The Gamaat Islamiya (the Islamic Group) has announced its intention of joining the protesters in Suez, even though the group had announced earlier this week that it would not participate in Friday’s demonstrations. Thousands of protesters are now in El-Arbaeen Square after the end of Friday prayers. More are expected to join later in the afternoon, according to our correspondent in the port city.

12:50 Protesters are calling for the overthrow of the Egypt's prosecutor-general, a remnant of the Mubarak regime, who has been blamed for the slow pace of the trials.

12:45 As a group of protesters begins chanting “the people and the army are one hand”, they are soon interrupted by others chanting against the SCAF. In an attempt to avoid the conflicting chants a third group begin to direct their chants against the interior ministry, demanding that members of the ousted regime be put on trial. The split intensifies between those who the support the SCAF, Egypt's de facto rulers, and those criticising it, yet such arguments are quickly contained. That is, for the time being.

12:35 Friday prayers in Tahrir square end to be followed immediately by a roar of chants enveloping the revolutionary square, as hundreds of thousands chanted: “One hand”, “the people demand the overthrow of the regime” and “the people demand the rights of the martyrs.”

12:20 Protesters from Suez join the Tahrir demonstration, holding a mock coffin with the words "Egyptian Judiciery" etched on the lid.

12:15 A military source has denied that roads leading to the Suez governorate have been cordoned off. The source stressed that all roads leading to Suez including the Cairo, Red Sea and Ismailia motorways are open. He added that security forces are only focusing on protecting companies, public buildings and banks but protesters are free to move around the governorate.

12:10 More than one sermon resounds through the loudspeakers in the square. A shiekh on the stage in front of Hardees is sermonising as a fellow Imam gives his sermon on the Muslim Brotherhood's stage in front of the Mogamma.

11:55 Hundreds are carrying a huge Egyptian flag, 10s of metres long, near Qasr El-Nil bridge, chanting: “It’s just another play and the same gang is ruling; the army is ours but the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF) does not belong to us; the people demand the overthrow of the regime.” According to our correspondents on the scene the numbers are now in the hundreds of thousands.

11:34 Several thousand protesters are gathering outside the Qaed Ibrahim Mosque in Alexandria. Speakers have already begun their speeches and activists have put up a symbolic hangman's noose.

11:30 Protesters chased reporters from the Egyptian TV network CBC out of Tahrir, forcing the television crew’s van to make an escape. Furthermore, demonstrators stopped CBC reporters from entering any of the surrounding buildings to film the events of the day from the roof tops. The TV channel is perceived by many activists as a counter-revolutionary force.

11:25 The Muslim Brotherhood youth are distributing caps to the protesters with the logo of the group printed on the crown.

11:15 Workers and peasants are gathering in Abdel Moniem Ryad Square, at the northern edge of Tahrir, preparing to march into the square. The governmental trade union, the Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions, announced that they would not be participating in today's protests, but the Independent Trade Union Federation said that their presence would be felt across the country. Mahalla textile workers announced their participation on Wednesday, while the workers of Suez Arsenal, an affiliate of the Suez Canal Authority, announced their solidarity with the families of the martyrs in Suez and that they will join today's protest in the city.

11:10 In Suez, which has been a hot bed of tension for the past week, hundreds of protesters are already in the central El-Arbaeen Square with a stage and banners ready to receive the protesters after the Friday prayers. The Suez sit-in has entered its fourth day.

11:07 Flyers are being distributed in solidarity with the military officers currently on trial for their participation in protests last April. A banner calling for their release can also be seen in the square.

11:05 The Wafd Party’s stage stands underneath a banner, bearing the words "national unity" and the images of the crescent and the cross.

11:00 A huge tent is being raised to cover the entire, not quite so grassy anymore, central island. The unforgiving Cairo sun is already beating down on the square with today’s high expected to reach 35C.

10:58 Tahrir Square is already brimming with protesters well before Friday’s noon prayer. Our correspondents in Tahrir say the numbers are in the thousands. The Revolution’s Youth Coalition have set up their stand near Hardees. Other coalitions, parties and movements are also setting up stands near Qasr El-Nil Bridge. The Muslim Brotherhood, who caused a stir Thursday evening as they erected their stage, remains near the Mogamma. Tents, in place since yesterday evening, have blanketed the entire grassy area of the sprawling square.

Banners are demanding minimum wage and call for ‘the poor first’ and ‘No to military trials’. Other banners demand the trial of the symbols of corruption.

10:50 The Coalition of Ahram Youth Journalists have set up a tent with a slogan reading, “revolution until victory.”

10:42 A protesters' security detail captured a policeman who had tried to enter the square while carrying a switch blade. The policeman was beaten up by some of the protesters but the youth of the revolution coalition extricated him and sent him out of the square.

10:00 Several thousand protesters are already gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir square to join in the “Friday of Determination,” million man march. They have setup “popular committees” to protect the square, with police and military conspicuously absent. The massive square is already totally sealed with special contingents of youths securing entry points, checking the ID cards of incomers and conducting body searches to ensure that no weapons are brought into the square.

The committee which will work round the clock in three hour shifts to protect the square, have been set up in the neighbouring Kasr El Nil and Mohamed Mahmoud streets as well as in front of the Egyptian Museum, the Arab League headquarters and the Omar Makaram Mosque.

The committee were common during the 18 day uprising against ousted president Hosni Mubarak, when hired thugs frequently entered the square to attack protesters. Yesterday’s announcement by Minister of Interior Mansour El Eissawy that no police forces will be present to protect the square, has also highlighted the need for protesters to secure the square themselves.

A huge tent has been erected across the square to protect the protesters from the scorching July sun. The Ministry of Health announced early today that 40 ambulance cars and eight makeshift clinics have been set up across the square, complete with medical supplies, medicine and medical personnel to aid the injured. The ministry also said that 40 additional ambulance cars have been stationed around the square in case more help is needed.

The US embassy in Cairo has already issued a warning on their official site, advising their citizens to avoid the square because the huge number of protesters may result in “violence.”

Yesterday, a spat broke out between members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other political groups over the huge makeshift stage the MB set up in the middle of the square. Activists griped that the MB should not have their own stage and there should be one unified stage for all movements and parties. However, the MB insisted the stage does not only belong to them, but also to the National Association for Change. Other smaller stages have been set up around the square.

Street vendors have already set up stalls across the square, offering everything from food and water to LE20 gas masks, in case police forces decide to rain the protesters with tear gas.

Activists will hold a “civic referendum” where protesters will be asked to fill out questionnaires about Egypt’s future and drop them in ballot boxes throughout the square.

About 23 political parties and movements have already announced that they join today’s protests.


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