Live updates: Egypt's "correct the path" Friday protest

Ahram Online, Friday 9 Sep 2011

Ahram Online reporters throughout the country provide a blow by blow account of today's nationwide protests

Friday protests in Tahrir (photo by: Mai Shaheen)

11:30pm Fierce clashes between police and protesters in front of Giza Police Headquarters next to the Israeli embassy.

10:55pm Egyptian protesters throw Israeli embassy documents out of windows of the building that houses the Israeli embassy.

10: 15pm According to our reporter, two police vans were set on fire near the Saudi embassy’s headquarter in Giza, 2 blocks away from the Israeli embassy.

9:55pm Traffic has begun to trickle into Tahrir Square.

9:25pm According to reports by Al-Jazeera, the first floor of the Interior Ministry which holds the Department of Criminal Evidence is on fire. 

8:40pm Protesters have managed to climb the 15 story building which houses the Israel embassy and remove the flag for a second time. By now, the barrier has been completely demolished as celebrations rebound. 

8:15pm Thousands remain in Tahrir as Friday’s momentum looks unlikely to diminish as the day draws to an end. The Ministry of Interior has announced that it will disperse protesters and evacuate Tahrir Square by midnight, stating its intentions to reoccupy the square for the next 24 hours. 

8:00pm After a heated confrontation between protesters and CSF troops in front of the Israel embassy, the atmosphere has quieted for the time being. Protesters, in the thousands, remain rooted outside the apartment building which houses the embassy in Giza, Cairo.

7:20pm A march has left Tahrir Square routed towards the State TV building in Maspero, calling for the "cleansing of the media." 

7:15pm The Ahly Ultras have published a statement on their official website distancing themselves from any attempts at storming the Ministry of Interior. A leader of the Ultras is speaking with an Al-Jazeera correspondent, challenging anyone to find a single member at the scene. 

7:10pm Protesters at the Interior Ministry continue to ravage the building's facade, tearing at signs and throwing stones at the gates. 

6:50pm The lights go out in front of the embassy, yet the hammering continues.

6:35pm Flares, flags and feverish scenes can be seen in front of the Israeli embassy as dusk approaches. Numbers are steadily increasing, reaching 4000, as security forces have completely pulled out of the vicinity. With large chunks of the wall torn down and numerous entry points opened up, the protesters show no signs of attempting to storm the apartment building which houses the embassy on the 15th floor.

According to reports by Al-Jazeera, three injured were transported away from the scene by two ambulances. 

6:20pm The Ultras Ahly official website has just announced that "within minutes" they will pull out of the protest to avoid any clashes.

6:15pm Ahly and Zamalek Ultras supporters have dismantled both the Ministry of Interior logo and the placard with the name of the ministry from the face of the ministry’s downtown offices.

6:10pm A larger section of the wall has collapsed as protesters seem to have discovered a more efficient method of tearing down the barrier. Drivers passing by are honking in support as the drums of the Ultras can be heard, rhythmically egging on the crowd. Needless to say, the press of people surrounding the embassy are elated at these scenes of defiance.

6:00pm Back in the revolution's ground zero, parties are handing out leaflets to passersby. The spirit of last week's explosive labour push has revitalised Egypt's nascent labour movement. The Democratic Workers Party are collecting signatures to renationalise public sector companies which were privatised under shady circumstances - the decades old department store Omar Effendi being one such company. 

5:55pm Protesters in front of the Israeli embassy have broken through a section of the wall. The crowd is wild with jubilation, as groups of other protesters steadily chip away at other sections of the separation wall.

5:45pm The marchers, about 800, have reached the High Court. The march was led by two large trucks, loaded with stage parts and amplifiers and proceeded down Ramsis Street intent on “purging the judiciary of all of Mubarak’s supporters.”

A new wave of protesters has converged on the square, ensuring the square’s energy levels will be maintained for the next few hours. According to our correspondent, nobody, thus far, is calling for a sit-in. Many have told him of the excitement they feel at being back in the square, having reclaimed the square after the forceful dispersion of protesters on 1 August. “We feel joyful and at peace,” a protester stated.

5:25pm About 2000 protesters have congregated in front of the Israeli embassy and are trying to dismantle the concrete wall which was set up by security forces around the premises.

Military police and state security forces are attempting to protect the wall as protesters, using everything from hammers to crow bars to their bare hands are trying to tear it down.

5:10pm A march has just mobilised in Tahrir Square, setting their course for the High Court in solidarity with the judges demanding the independence of the judiciary.

5:00pm Despite the Muslim Brotherhood’s boycott of t Friday's mass protests, ex-MB member and presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh has joined the protesters in Tahrir Square.

4:55pm A large banner in the middle of the square targets the media, calling it the media of Mubarak's regime which is now challenging the revolution. The banner's subheading states: "Tantawi is Mubarak."

4:45pm In and around the square the numbers have dwindled slightly, due to the heat. Ahram Online’s reporter pegs the number at 20,000 to 35,000.

There are small groups of demonstrators chanting against military rule and calls for an Islamist state. In keeping with the squares dynamic nature and the demands of the revolutionaries, other groups are also chanting anti-Tantawi, holding him complicit in the crimes of the old regime.

According to our correspondent, people from the Democratic Workers Party have been handing out thousands of leaflets, calling for revolution’s completion as well as for support of the Mahalla strikes and the workers’ struggles at large (citing recent postal strikes). Furthermore, the statement called for the immediate end to all military trials.

 At the main stage near the Mohammed Mahmoud Street entrance and the Qasr El-Aini entrance, at least 200 to 300 people have crowded the stage and are called for an end to military rule, stating, “We refuse to live in a new prison.”

The word on the street, according to Ahram Online’s reporter, is that a 6pm march will leave Tahrir in the direction of the Israeli embassy in what protesters are already dubbing the “march of the hammer.” Protesters are intent on demolishing the wall which Egypt’s security forces erected in front of the embassy in Giza.

4:05pm Four protesters, arrested in Suez earlier today, have now been released by the military.

4:00pm Ultras continue their series of marches, weaving through the streets of downtown Cairo. Their drums, flares and chants are energising today’s protests. Many onlookers and protesters have commented on the stadium like atmosphere they’ve brought to the square.

Members of the football firms are also seeking out sources of water to provide for the steady growing number of demonstrators in the square. Egypt’s summer heat, as always, makes any outdoor activity that much harder.

3:45pm About 1000 people, largely Ahly and Zamalek Ultras, have gathered in front of the Ministry of Interior who have closed their main gates. The protesters are chanting slurs at the mammoth structure.

The numbers in the square have reached the tens of thousands as small demonstrations consisting of hundreds of people coming in from surrounding suburbs and remote areas of Cairo. Demonstrators have just arrived from Giza Square as protesters in Tahrir take off on marches towards surrounding areas, returning with swelled numbers. 

3: 40pm The Revolutionary Youth Coalition in Qena protested in solidarity with the “correct the path” demonstration in Tahrir Square. Protests took off in El-Mahatta Square in the city of Qena and also in the city of Naga Hamady.

The Naga Hamady protest began at the El-Nagda Mosque after which demonstrators took to the streets, marching in the direction of the State Security headquarters. The protesters chanted: “We the people are the red line” and “why do we have a military rule?”

3:35pm At least 5,000 Ultras fans from both Ahly and Zamalek are on Mohammed Mahmoud Street in front of the AUC campus. According to our correspondent on the ground, it is “an electrifying mass rally.” They are chanting against the Ministry of Interior, singling out police officers for corruption and brutality and calling on the def-facto ruler Field Marshall Mohammed Hussein Tantawi to ensure justice for the martyrs.

The football supporters are transforming their team chants into politically loaded admonishments of the ruling military and police forces. The main call is for freedom, according to our man, who had this to say about the atmosphere which is currently riddled with chants and flares:

“It feels like you’re sitting in a coliseum. The echo in the streets of downtown Cairo is unbelievable.”

3:18pm Abdel Hakim Abdel Nasser, the youngest of former president Gamal Abdel Nasser’s sons, addresses the crowd from the main stage as the crowd chant pro-Nasser slogans. 

3:15pm Protesters in Tahrir Square are now demanding the removal of the barrier wall surrounding the Israeli embassy within four hours. 

Ultra supporters in the square meanwhile are chanting: "the Interior Ministry are thugs!"

3:10pm Hundreds gather in Aswan’s central square - mainly Ultras – as well as in Mansoura, to the north of Cairo in Egypt’s delta region. 

3:00pm Fireworks and flares burst and boom in Talaat Harb Square, adjacent to Tahrir Square, according to an Ahram Online correspondent. The Ultras' awesome presence can be felt, heard and seen today. 

2:55pm Clashes erupted between protesters led by Suez football Ultras and the military police when protesters attempted to head towards the governorate's offices. They were prevented from doing so by the military police. Protesters then announced that they would seek an alternative route to the offices, but were again cut off by even more military police that joined to try and stop the protesters.

 As violence erupted on both sides the protesters started to throw stones towards the policemen who used their sticks and batons to disperse the crowd. Activists in Suez told Ahram Online that one protester was arrested and that others are demanding his release. It is not known yet if he will be released  

2:40pm Witnesses number 8 and 9, who gave testimony against former minister of interior Habib El-Adly and Mubarak yesterday during the duo's trial for the murder of protesters during the 18-day uprising, are now in Tahrir Square and are expected to address the crowd shortly.

2:35pm Wael Ghonim has arrived in the square along with marchers from Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque in Mohandessin, Cairo.  Ghonim's "We are all Khaled Said" Facebook page is credited for being one of the triggers of the January 25 Revolution.

2:30pm Thousands from Giza and Zamalek have just arrived at the square from the Qasr El-Nil Street entrance. The checklpoint, needless to say, is packed as the marchers seek entrance into the protest gronds. The Shubra marchers are not far behind. 

2:25pm Our man in the march from Shubra to Tahrir, reports that they have now entered Ramses Street and are quickly approaching their destination. As they passed the Al-Gomhoreyanewspaper offices, protesters raised their shoes and chanted “liars” at the government owned publication. 

2:20pm And in Egypt’s coastal city of Alexandria, thousands of protesters began a march from the El-Qaed Ibrahim Mosque heading to the northern military zone. The protesters raised various slogans among which were “No to the military council’s monopolisation of power” and “Put all the murderous officers on trial,” referring to the police who are accused of shooting at protesters during the 18-day uprising.

They also chanted, “Everything is the same even after the revolution.” Several political groups joined Alexandria’s march including the Revolutionary Youth Coalition, the Youth Movement for Justice and Freedom, the April 6th Movement and supporters of presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei.

2:18pm And speaking of caution, our correspondent reports that at the Qasr El-Nil Street checkpoint, the popular committee is beginning to check IDs and perform searches.

2:11pm Football Ultras are marching from Shubra towards Tahrir.

2:05pm Popular committees are now cordoning off the ministry, securing it from any unnecessary aggression. Our man on the ground reports that police and security officials have completely evacuated the streets around the Interior Ministry. Looks like caution is the operative word this afternoon. 

The Ultras are energising today's protest, brining in much of the numbers and drawing plenty of media attention. 

1:55pm Only a small group of Ultras remain in front of the ministry, as the majority of the marchers have returned to demonstrate in Tahrir Square. 

1:50pm Once the Ultras supporters reached the Interior Ministry, they circled the complex, chanting against the ministry and then set up camp in front of the main gate. They then proceeded to sing the song, "We've not forgetten Tahrir, you sons of *****",  which enraged police forces just few nights ago before the bloody clashes.

1:45pm A march heading from Giza passed next to the Israeli embassy. Protesters decided not to stop at the embassy, but continued chanting anti-Israeli and anti-military council slogans as they moved next to the walls of the embassy. The march then reached the Saudi Arabian embassy, where protesters chanted "Mubarak and Saudi Arabia are one hand."

1:40pm An Ahram Online reporter confirms that thousands of Ahly Ultras have begun their short march towards the reviled Interior Ministry. The ministry has been an acute point of tension since start of the uprising in January. In a statement released on Wednesday, the ruling military council issued a stern warning against any excess against government facilities.   

1:30pm A march from Cairo University's campus in Giza, Cairo is heading towards the neighbouring Israeli embassy where they will rally support and begin marching on Tahrir Square.

1:20pm Demonstrators are chanting slogans calling for "change, freedom and social justice". New slogans ring out in the square, according to our reporter on the ground.  The most vibrant of these chants is "One, Two, where did the revolution go?"

Members of Egypt’s football Ultras are waving the biggest banners in the square reading: "We freed our country from thieves and the ultras are paying the price." 

1:15pm Hundreds of Ahly Ultras have just entered Tahrir Square. The two groups will soon begin a march towards the Ministry of Interior offices. They have brought the atmosphere of the football stadium to the square, chanting in unison and, as usual, using some very colourful language to voice their anger at the Interior Ministry. Members of the Ahly firm are demanding the release of their colleagues who were arrested after clashes with police forces after a cup match between Ahly and Kima Aswan on Tuesday. 

1:05pm Members of Zamalek Football Club's own firm, Ultras White Knights, has joined their rival supporters at the Ahly club in Zamalek. Red and white flags, an altogether alien sight in Cairo's streets, fly side by side as the two firms gear up for their march. 

1:00pm Security forces are absent from the Arbaeen Square in the governorate of Suez as protesters begin the “correct the path” Friday.

In the governorate’s Arbaeen Square, security forces have also set up barbed wires around all the police stations to protect them from attacks from protesters.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian 3rd Army in Suez has begun distributing flyers, titled Communiqué 10, urging the people to fend off any attempts by ‘elements’ to cause tension between the army and the people. The communiqué told the Egyptians to stand united during the protests planned for today.

12:50pm With the conclusion of the Friday noon prayer, a protest has set off from Nahiya in the governorate of Giza towards Tahrir Square. In Giza, the Revolutionary Socialists have called for a march from Istequama mosque towards the square. Another march is also set to kick off in Shubra, a highly populated, majority Christian neighbourhood.

At the Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque in Mohandessin, Giza, a central meeting point for supporters of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, will also be a meeting point for another march towards Tahrir.

12:40pm The Imam’s sermon is cutting in and out due to some technical issues with the audio set-up. However, his message is clear. He is criticising witnesses in Mubarak’s trial who have been charged with changing their testimonies. He also adds that civilians must be tried in civil courts, condemning the continued military trials of civilians. His statements are followed by frenzied applause.  

12:30pm Our man in the square reports that the entire roundabout is brimming with protesters as banners and flags fill the  void which had blanketed the square for all of Ramadan. A large 'No Military Trials'  banner is among the newly flying slogans. Elsewhere, in Zamalek, members of Egypt's Ahly football club's firm, known as the Ultras, have begun coalescing in front of the club. They have planned a march following Friday's prayer

12:20pm Farmers by the bus load have arrived at Cairo's international stadium to celebrate National Farmer's Day, a commemoration organised by the government. The Independent Union of Farmers has boycotted the event and announced Tuesday that they would be joining Friday's protest. They have organised a march which will kick off at 2pm and head to the square from outside the Ministry of Agriculture in Dokki, Cairo. 

12:00pm Friday's noon prayers have begun and will be led by Imam Mazhar Shain.

11:45am Ahram Online's man on the ground reports that volunteers at the security check points leading in and out of the square are not searching people. Rather, they are overseeing the flow of protesters in largely hands off manner. 

11:30am Demonstrators are beginning to occupy the square's central island. Poice kiosks put in place after the forceful 1 August military and police clearance of the square are being used by protesters for shade and seating. Food vendors have been pouring in since Thursday evening, ringing the garden and surrounding traffic islands. Protesters are chanting against the ruling military council, military trials and for implementation of fair minimum wages.

11:20am  Activists have begun erecting the main stage near the Mohammed Mahmoud Street and Qasr El-Aini Street entrances. A 500 man march coming from the American University in Cairo’s (AUC) campus has just arrived in the square to set off the day’s events. Traffic in the square is still moving and has not yet been blocked by protesters. Another stage has been set up for the media.

Three youths have climbed up one of the traffic masts, carrying a US flag with anti-US slogans scrawled all over.

11:00am Around 5,000 protesters are already in a traffic-less Tahrir Square as more flow in from different entry points ahead of the planned "correct the path" Friday. The square's entry points have been blocked off, preventing traffic from flowing into the square. Police and army have completely evacuated the square leaving not a single traffic policeman behind. As of Thursday evening, groups of youth protesters have taken charge of security. 

Several marches are planned for 1:00pm after Friday prayers and will depart from numerous mosques and meeting points in and around the capital. 

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