An anti-government protester displays a message written on his forearm in front of fellow protesters shouting slogans during a demonstration outside Sanaa University February 22, 2011. The message reads, "Leave!" [photo: Reuters]
The protesters in the Yemeni capital are mostly led by students and graduates tired of the dim prospects of finding jobs and the pervasive poverty in a country of 23 million people, despite receiving a subsidised education.
Student leaders on a stage resembling a Western food aid concert choreograph the rally, introducing speakers, directing chants and playing music. Some people dance to the tune of revolutionary songs from the 1960s.
"We want a civic government, not tribal, not sectarian. Abdullah Saleh is waving the scarecrow of civil war in case he falls. It will not happen," Yahiya Qahtani said.
He introduces a tribal notable and an injured veteran of a war against a northern insurgency last year to prove that there is across-the-board dissatisfaction with the Yemeni president.
The crowd erupts in football like chants "Oh Oh Ali, Leave." Women wave flowers. Street vendors sell cactus fruit, nuts and cucumber, which is supposed to cool in the 30 degree celsius heat.