By Heba Fahmy
CAIRO: Over 1,000 protested in Tahrir Square on Tuesday after a planned million man march was downgraded to a symbolic one in response to a “positive” TV interview with members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces on Dream TV Monday night.
Earlier in the day, Mohamed Adel, a spokesman for the April 6 Youth Movement which had originally called for the march, told Daily News Egypt, “We will have a symbolic march today instead of a million man march in response to the army officials’ statements last night in the program.”
“They addressed most of our concerns which is considered a positive step,” Adel added.
“We just want to remind people through these protests that there is no dialogue between opposition powers and the army anymore and we aren’t included in anything,” general coordinator of April 6 Youth Movement, Ahmed Maher told Daily News Egypt.
Shubra and Boulaq Abul Ela were identified as assembly points for the demonstrations, which would march towards Tahrir Square.
April 6 Youth Movement member Baraa Magdi was briefly detained with four other protestors while marching from Dawaran Shoubra towards Tahrir Square by military police.
“They were detained because they were distributing flyers demanding change and reform,” Maher said.
The protestors detained with Magdi weren’t affiliated with any political movement, according to Maher.
In Tahrir Square, over a thousand protestors gathered to ask the army to execute their demands for change and reform.
These demands include the resignation of the current government, an end to emergency law, the release of all detainees arrested during the revolution, the formation of a presidential council that includes civilians and judges, dissolving the state security investigations apparatus, and completely restructuring the interior ministry.
“We want state security investigations to be removed just like they removed the Ministry of communications,” medical student, Basma Hassan, told Daily News Egypt.
“How can we trust this corrupt government, that was mostly chosen by Mubarak, to achieve change and reform,” journalist Mohamed Suleiman said.
“This National Democratic Party government and the army are taking their orders from Mubarak in Sharm El-Sheikh,” Suleiman added.
However, on their first ever media appearance, three members of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (Generals Mamdouh Al-Molla, Mamdouh Shahin and Mohamed Al-A’sar) strongly rejected accusations that the armed forces are being controlled by Mubarak, as many were beginning to suspect.
They said that people need to trust them as they have proven themselves, adding that they believed in the demands of the great revolution and vowed to see them through.
They said that the amendments to the constitution will guarantee free and fair elections as opposed to the fraud practiced in previous elections.
They added that changing the whole constitution would take more than a year and they had vowed to stay in power for only six months.
They also confirmed citizens will be allowed to vote using their national identification cards in both the referendum on constitutional amendments and the People’s Assembly and presidential elections, marking an end to the voting cards system which led to widespread rigging in previous elections.
Referring to the possibility of prosecuting Mubarak and members of his family, they said that no one is immune from the long arm of the judiciary and that they will be indicted if there is enough physical proof that they have committed illegal acts.
They also said that the heads of national media institutions, including press and TV, will be removed from their posts sooner or later, suggesting that they might as well resign.
On Tuesday, protestors commented on the army officials’ statements on Dream TV saying “it was a good step, but it wasn’t enough.”
“There’s still more the army can do,” university student Hana Karim told Daily News Egypt.
“What the army officials said on Dream TV was mostly reasonable, but at the same time contradictory,” retired government employee, Mohamed Amin, told Daily News Egypt.
“Why not remove the government altogether instead of stating that it won’t be responsible for the elections,” Amin questioned.
“We aren’t against the army; we just have demands that need to be heeded that won’t violate the laws,” Hassan said.
The protestors held banners reading, “The army needs to choose, either the people or the government.”
Military police tried to convince protestors to keep the roads open, but to no avail.
They failed to maintain the flow of traffic in Tahrir Square and prevent the protestors from blocking the roads.
“We didn’t block the roads; the large number of protestors calling for the government to resign is what blocked the roads,” Mansoura University professor, Zakaria Yehia, told Daily news Egypt.
A few steps away from the square, around 150 protestors gathered in front of the Arab League calling for the prosecution of Libya’s President Muammar Qaddafi for ordering the killing of anti-regime protesters.
“We want the Arab League to perform its duty and hold an emergency meeting demanding that Qaddafi’s legitimacy as president be annulled according to the people’s will,” psychiatrist Mohsen Mahmoud told said.
“The legitimacy in Libya is the revolution and the people’s legitimacy not Qaddafi’s,” Mahmoud added.