Protesters in Egypt turn out for 'Friday of Dignity'
Dina Samak, Randa Ali, Bel Trew, Zeinab El Gundy, Ayman Farag, Yassin Gaber, Sherif Tarek, Salma Shukrallah, Friday 27 Jan 2012
Follow our blow-by-blow account of Egypt's Friday protests, as revolutionaries take to Tahrir and squares across the country, following Wednesday's mass demonstrations, to demand a swift power transition to a civil authority

19:00Hundreds of thousands of protesters have again filled their streets and squares across Egypt, demanding an end to military rule and dignity, freedom, and social justice for all Egyptians. The revolution continues and so we leave it to 10-year-old protester Layla to close the day.

"It's the first time I'm in the square. I really wanted to come before but my parents said it wasn't safe enough. Today they thought I could, and should, join them."

18:42 In Tahrir, our correspondent spoke to Mina, a 21-year-old engineering student, about why he's protesting today.

"I'm here to communicate to the military that we are here and we want freedom and they don't understand us. Today won't be as big as January 25 because people are probably a bit bored. The Brotherhood have dominated the square, you can only hear them, they are the only sound!"

Our reporter also met Adam, 25, who works for a fast food chain located on Tahrir but has been sleeping in the square's central roundabout since the Cabinet sit-in was cleared forcibly on 16 December.

"I am from the association of defending the revolution. This tent is from the Cabinet sit-in, we've been sleeping here since then, for 70 days. Since Mohamed Mahmoud [19 November] I've been in the square. The pictures on the tent were taken from all the events we have encountered from all the footage that has come out. We know the situation of the Egyptian state media; they have been lying about events. So we have printed these pictures so visitors who visit can see the truth, it's part of the strategy to fight the lies."

18:09 Our sister Arabic site reports that a police officer in Alexandria’s Moharam Bek police station made obscene gestures with his hand at a passing march, enraging some of the protesters to the point that they wanted to attack the building. The situation was contained by other protesters who chanted “peaceful, peaceful” while others formed a human shield around the police station.

18:00 It's not just in Tahrir that the Muslim Brotherhood are getting into fights. In Mansoura’s Thawra Square, members from the Brotherhood and a group calling itself the Independent Youth of Mansoura squared off with another. Tasers and large wooden sticks were involved. The fight, according to reports, was over who would take the microphone to lead the chants.

17:53 The calm was temporary. As soon as prayers end, chants resume for the Muslim Brotherhood to "get down" from their stage and "get out" of Tahrir. Their interpretation of Wednesday's anniversary of 25 January as an opportunity to celebrate has backfired, in the square.

17:45 Things have calmed down in Tahrir for now with sunset prayers being performed.

"Today is important because there were a lot of our losses were between the 25th and 28th [of January last year}," Anwan, a 46-year-old engineering professor told our correspondent in the square earlier today. "We accept that the Muslim Brotherhood are in Parliament but they should follow us, the people. This is not a celebration."

17:38Back to the flashpoint at the Muslim Brotherhood stage where a sheikh from Al-Azhar stepped up in another attempt at diffusing the situation. He, too, was met with boos and calls to step down from the stage, even as he chanted pro-revolution slogans. A banner on the stage stating this to be "the revolution's celebration" has been covered up with a large drape.

17:30 Our correspondent in Tahrir has been speaking to people out protesting today.

Ranya, a 25-year-old university graduate, took part in the march from Ramses:

"People want to gather together to push for change, so we are happy," she said. "This is the most important Friday, we think, because it is in memory of Janusry 28 when a lot of people died. Today we are hoping to have an announcement from the field marshal that they will transfer [power] to a civilian government. Plus the military is killing the people, we still no have not got our rights."

Mahy, a 44-year-old engineer, had this to say about today:

"'We feel great and proud. We are not here to celebrate but protest, the revolution is not complete. None of our demands have been achieved, we have a long way to go. I bought my daughter Layla for the first time today because the kids have to share, by coming to the square to protest they will learn to have dignity. They have to earn how to ask for their rights."

Twenty-year-old Ains Shams University student Faadi explained why he came out on 25 January and comapres it to today's protests:

"I came on a march from Ain Shams on the 25th because Mohamed Mostafa, the student who was killed [in December after Cabinet sit-in was attacked], was a fellow student although I didn't know him personally. We won't sit-in at Tahrir but we believe and support it.It's not like January 25 but we saw lots of marches coming here on our way to the square. The Brotherhood have lots of responsibility on their hands, we hope they deliver. We don't understand why they were here to celebrate on January 25 and now when they weren't here in November and December."

17:28 A march to the Ministry of Defence has been forced to turn round and head for Tahrir and Maspero after being attacked in Abbassya. The road beyond Abbassya was blocked by security forces, making the protesters easy prey for supporters of the military council. As we mentioned at 16:11, the same occured on 23 July 2011 when a larger march was attacked with Molotov cocktails and rocks.

17:23 Tensions at the Brotherhood stage continue to escalate. Our correspondent reports that thousands of protesters are chanting "liars" at the Brotherhood members and calling on them to come down from the stage. In a bid to calm the anger, an April 6 Youth member has taken to the stage, telling the crowd that all political forces have a common enemy in the military council. His words failed to cool the tempers and he was also told to get down.

After drowing out the dissent with Quranic recitations failed, the stage's speakers played the national anthem. They've used religion to get this far, why not patriotism to stay there.

17:02 Our correspondent in Tahrir reports that thousands of protesters from the Giza and Mohandiseen marches are gathering around the Muslim Brotherhood stage and chanting against the Islamist group. As well raising chants for the Brotherhood to "come down", some protesters are holding their shoes aloft at the stage. The Brotherhood speakers are blaring out verses from Quran to drown out the anger flying their way. Bodes well for a Brotherhood-dominated parliament.

16:57 In the city of Port Said, mass protests were staged after Friday prayers by a number of revolutionary groups. Protesters in the coastal city are demanding that power be handed over immediately to a civilian administration, which has been a central demand of revolutionaries for several months. The protesters are also demanding that those who killed protesters in the course of the revolution be brought to justice

16:55 A march from 6 October City made up of around 50 people has arrived in Tahrir Square, demanding justice for Ahmed Mansour who was killed during the latest clashes at the Cabinet building in December.

Meanwhile, the Maadi march has reached Qasr El-Nile Bridge and protesters are entering Tahrir Square. Our correspondent covering the march tells us that the initial plan was to head to the state TV and broadcasting building in Maspero, another focus of protest today.

16:43 The Maadi march has stepped off the metro and is now heading towards Tahrir along the Nile's Cornish, parallel to Qasr El-Street, whose entrance into the square has been blocked off with a concrete wall since December.

Meanwhile, thousands of protesters from the Giza and Mohandiseen marches have started entering Tahrir. The march stretches back all the way to El-Galaa street.

16:38Back in Tahrir where someone on the Muslim Brotherhood stage has called for a boycott of mobile phone operators in Egypt tomorrow, 28 January. Last year on the that day the Mubarak regime cut all mobile and most internet networks in a futile attempt to stall massive protests planned on that "Day of Rage." Before the sun fell that Friday, central security and police forces were withdrawn from country's streets, cowed by the force of popular anger at the brutality and injustice meted out on a daily basis by the state's tools of control. Mobile phone networks were disabled until the next day while the internet and text services remained down for several days.

The Brotherhood also used its stage to defend the fact that the group "celebrated the revolution" on 25 January. As hundreds of thousands marked the one-year anniversary of the start of the revolution, the Brotherhood opted to celebrate the "achievements fo the revolution so far." The person with the microphone went on to list these as the ouster of Mubarak and dissolving of State Security as well as free democratic elections. The Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, of course, won nearly half of the seats contested in those elections.

16:11 TV producer Ahmed Ragab has tweeted that around 30 residents of Abbassya, where pro-SCAF demonstrations have been held over the past months in response to Tahrir, are holding cudgels and bladed weapons as they wait for the march heading towards the Ministry of Defence.

In July of last year, protesters marching from Tahrir to the ministry were prevented from passing beyond Abbassya. Soon after, armed residents attacked the protesters under the watchful gaze of the military police. The neighbourhood has a loaded history in the revolution.

16:07In Alexandria, where the skies have opened up, protesters are chanting: “Even if it rains cats and dogs, down down with the military council.”

15:55A march heading from the Shubra neighbourhood stopped at the Al-Ahram building on El-Galaa Street on its way to Tahrir Square. Protesters chanted "liars, liars" as they stood under the state newspaper's offices. The voice of their anger at media manipulation made its way to Ahram Online's office.

The march split in two thereafter, with the majority reported to have continued to the state TV and broadcasting building in Maspero where 27 protesters were killed by Egypt's army on 9 October.

15:50 In the canal city of Suez, protests erupted against the ruling military council as soon as Friday prayers ended. The Suez Youth Bloc's protest has been by factory workers from the city.

Missing from Suez's protests, however, are Salafist groups. The Salafist Nour Party shared the city's parliamentary seats with the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party in the recent elections.

15:32 The Maadi march met another group of protesters demonstrating in the upscale Cairo district. According to our reporter there, protesters– numbering between 3,000 to 4,000–will take the metro to the El-Sayeda Zeinab neighbourhood and march on to Tahrir Square, a couple of kilometres away.

15:20 El-Galaa Street, close to Tahrir Square, is now fully packed as the Mohandiseen march passes through, according to Ahram Online’s correspondent. Some protesters have also set up a huge dummy of Field Marshal, and de facto ruler, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

The march has been swelled by another coming from Giza. The merged marches are now heading together towards Tahrir Square.

14:57Despite frigid weather and an outpouring of rain, thousands of protesters in Egypt's second city, Alexandria, are leading several marches. Plans to march on the city's television and radio offices have been scrapped, however, due to the inclement weather.

We also have reports of several marches across Upper Egypt.

14:48Protesters at the vanguard of the Mohandiseen march are wearing masks of the fallen protesters and carrying effigies of Mubarak with a noose around his neck. In Maadi, pockets of protesters are stencilling and spraying anti-SCAF graffiti.

14:28 Mohamed Abou-Hamed, Free Egyptians Party leader and MP, is taking part in the march proceeding down Gameat Al-Dewal Al-Arabiya Street, a major thoroughfare in Mohandiseen. The liberal politician told Ahram Online that he is against a handover of power to the People's Assembly (parliament's lower house), which was elected through a three-stage polling process and met for the first time on 23 January.

The parliamentarian went on to clarify that his opposition stems from a wariness of the Assembly's Islamist majority. Abou-Hamed believes instead that presidential elections should be brought forward.

The Free Egyptians, founded by prominent Coptic-Christian business tycoonNaguib Sawiris, competed in the lower house elections alongside a coalition of parties called the Egyptian Bloc, which won 33 seats.

14:07The march proceeding from Al-Azhar Mosque is reportedly being attacked by thugs, according to activists. There are also reports that pro-SCAF civilians, termed honourable citizens by the ruling junta, are distributing flyers with anti-Tahrir Square and anti-protest rhetoric.

Dr Mahmoud El-Shinnawi, a member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, told Ahram Online that a group of thugs attacked the march, as security and police forces looked on in silence. El-Shinnawi added that no injuries have thus far resulted from the attacks. The march has now split, and the two offshoots have taken two different routes to Tahrir Square.

In Gameat Al-DewalAl- ArabiyaStreet, near Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque, our reporter tells us that thousands of protesters have gathered ahead of the march on Tahrir Square.

13:52 Punches were thrown in Maadi, after passersby allegedly made verbally abusive comments to protesters. The scuffle was soon contained, and the march – consisting of a few hundred – began moving toward Tahrir Square. Protesters in front of Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque have begun marching on the square. Veteran leftist activist and Democratic Workers' Party member Kamal Khalil is leading the chants, as he did on 25 January.

13:35 In the Cairo suburb of Maadi, protesters have decided to call their march the "Smiling Martyr March." Two thousand protesters have already gathered in front of Mohandiseen's Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque, vociferously chanting anti-SCAF slogans.

13:25 It was a long one, but here are the key points from Sheikh Mazhar Shaheen's Friday sermon. The revolutionary cleric stressed that Egypt's protesters are keen to maintain a peacefulness resistance and do not aim to bring the country down, as the media has consistently claimed. Revolutionaries respect the army and the judiciaries as institutions, he added. Furthermore, he believes that the differences between the ruling SCAF – or rather the army – and the protesters are purely political ones. He warned of those remaining regime figures who still cling to positions of authority, continuing to affect the fate of Egypt.

Shaheen also demanded a complete and transparent audit of the Suez Canal's revenues over the past 30 years, as well as thorough audits of Mubarak and his cronies. He urged parliament to form a revolutionary court to try corrupt regime figures, stressing that all trials should be publicly broadcast.

The cleric went on to slam what he called a biased media that spreads lies and manufactures truths. He demanded a complete purge of the media.

13:10Friday prayers have ended amidst loud calls for the removal of the ruling junta. The square is brimming with life, as tens of thousands have already made their way to the uprising's epicentre. Several marches will soon set off from suburbs across Cairo: Mostafa Mohamed Square in Mohandiseen, Giza Square, Fatah Mosque in Maadi and Al-Azhar Mosque among others.

12:55 Protesters have begun their prayers, following Shaheen's highly politicised sermon, of which we shortly will give you a wrap-up.

12:15Sheikh Mazhar Shaheen of Tahrir Square's Omar Makram Mosque, renowned for staunchly supporting the January 25 uprising, is currently giving the pre-Friday prayer sermon. He is calling for retribution for fallen protesters and denounced those who went on 25 January's anniversary to celebrate. The cleric argues that people's presence in the street is proof that the uprising's demands have not been met.

12:00In yet another show of Egyptian activist's notorious sense of humour, a group of protesters are circumambulating Tahrir Square's central island, bearing a medical stretcher on which they've place an effigy of toppled president Hosni Mubarak. Images of Mubarak wearing sunglasses and a tracksuit being transported back and forth between hospital and court room, have been splashed across the front pages of every national paper for months. Many demonstrators believe the trial to be a sham: a farcical affair that has done little to bring Mubarak, his sons, and former interior minister Habib El-Adly to justice.

11:30 Hundreds of protesters remained in the uprising's iconic grounds until early Friday morning, chanting slogans against the ruling military junta. Dozens of activists camped out in anticipation of today, while more trickle in this morning.

Our reporter in the square estimates numbers to currently be in the hundreds.

10:45 Protesters began arriving to Tahrir Square in large numbers early this morning. Three stages are being erected next to stages belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood stage and the April 6 Youth Movement. Brotherhood supporters have made a cordon around their stage to prevent clashes with the other protesters.

Popular committees, a mainstay in the square's evolving dynamic, have prevented traffic from entering the square, forming security points at all the squares entrances.

A group of Syrian activists arrived in the flashpoint square where the Syrian community have built their own stage near the Arab League building.

10:30With the success of Wednesday's mass marches and demonstrations, celebrating the first anniversary of 25 January's Day of Rage, the spirit of Tahrir's Friday protests yet again makes an appeal to Egypt's revolutionaries. Today's protest, dubbed the 'Friday of Dignity,' looks to be big, as almost 60 political forces - parties included - have announced their participation. Their demands, an end to military rule and the immediate handover of power to a civil authority, have been protesters' bottom line for months now.

The political forces behind today's call include the usual suspects: the April 6 Youth Movement, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Revolutionary Socialists, the Justice and Freedom Youth Movement, the Free Front for Peaceful Change, the Awareness Party, the Popular Movement for the Independence of Al-Azhar and the Maspero Protesters Movement.

The April 6 Youth Movement and the National Front for Justice and Democracy have also stated their intention to stage an open-ended sit-in.

A year ago, 27 January, as the well as the day before, had seen isolated skirmishes between protesters and security forces, in the wake of 25 January's astonishing street protests. The following day, 28 January or the 'Friday of Rage,' saw unforeseen numbers of people taking to the streets, challenging Mubarak's security forces and effectively changing the protest dynamic. The military was deployed that night, as security forces fled. Egypt's revolt hadtaken on a life of its own.