By Tamim Elyan
CAIRO: On Tuesday, Tahrir Square was the epicenter of heated debate between protesters and passersby regarding the ongoing sit-in demanding the fall of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq’s cabinet.
Hundreds of protesters staging a sit-in in Tahrir Square since Saturday say they will not leave until Shafiq is discharged, the state security apparatus is dissolved and political prisoners are released.
“We are here to complete our demands of getting rid of all the ousted regime’s figures,” said Abdel Rahman Hassan, one of the protesters.
“The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces recognized our demands so why are they keeping Shafiq’s government although they can discharge it at any given moment? Is there a plan for Shafiq to perform a certain role in saving Mubarak’s regime?” he added.
Discussions between protesters and passersby opposing the sit-in resonated across the square.
“I want them to end their sit-in because we must give the military and the government time to carry out reforms,” Sayed Eid, a manager at a textile company, said.
“Most of the protesters are students, they don’t feel how badly we were affected by the protests and they won’t be satisfied with anyone who takes charge,” he added.
Mohamed Qassem, an accountant, said that since this is only an interim government that will leave in a few months. “There is no reason for this sit-in; this government is only to ensure the continuation of ordinary life and will leave soon,” he said.
The Youth Coalition of the January 25 Revolution said that they didn’t call for the sit-in.
“We acknowledge everyone’s constitutional right to protest but we as a coalition believe that million man demonstrations every Friday are enough in this period,” said Shady Al-Ghazaly Harb, member of the coalition.
The coalition called for a major demonstration in Tahrir Square next Friday to demand the resignation of Shafiq and dissolving state security.
Protesters said they decided to organize the sit-in after peaceful protesters were violently dispersed by army personnel in the early hours of Saturday morning.
“We came here after we saw what happened on [Saturday] despite pledges of not using violence against protesters, and decided to participate in the sit-in and provide support,” Hossam Za’abal, a protester, said.
The armed forces council issued an apology for the incident and said that it was unintentional.
Some protesters are also demanding the investigation of some regime figures like Safwat Al-Sherif, Zakaria Azmy and Fathy Sorour, as well, as cancelling the emergency law.
“We feel that there is some sort of arrangement between the military council and the interim government, we want them at least to demonstrate good will by trying the past regime’s figures,” Za’abal added.
Other passersby expressed solidarity with protesters but disagreed on their method of voicing their demands.
“They are all patriotic young men but different in their level of understanding; I support them in their demands as long as they don’t hinder public life,” said Ahmed Abdel Wahab.
A group of protesters were seen managing traffic in the square and preventing other protesters from standing in the middle of the street.