By Marwa Al-A’asar
CAIRO: Tens of thousands of Egyptians protested nationwide following Friday prayers parallel to a major demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square dubbed “the Revolution First” and “The Friday of Persistence.”
In Suez, thousands protested in the main El-Arbaein Square, including men, women and children from an array of backgrounds and political groups, demanding justice for the injured and the families of those killed during the early days of the January 25 uprising.
The Friday protesters accused the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) of violating the victims’ rights, calling for overthrowing the head of SCAF Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawy.
“The people want to overthrow the field marshal,” they chanted. “The army is ours and the SCAF is theirs,” others said.
On Monday, seven police officers accused of using live ammunition against peaceful protesters, including the former police directorate chief and his deputy, were released on bail and the trial was adjourned until September. Another seven officers are being tried in absentia.
The court order stirred the outrage of citizens, hundreds of whom began an open sit-in on El-Arbaein Square since then.
The demonstrators also called for sacking Interior Minister Mansour El-Essawy and other senior officers charged with killing protesters.
“We call for holding public trials of ousted president Hosni Mubarak and all former officials accused of corruption,” activist Abdel-Aziz Kamel told Daily News Egypt.
Others requested sacking the Suez attorney general who allegedly ignored complaints against other officers accused of shooting protesters as well as corruption cases.
“Today reminds us of the night of Jan. 28 [dubbed the Friday of Anger]. Even those who never protested before are here today,” official spokesman of the Suez Youth Coalition Medhat Eissa told DNE.
“We demand the cleansing of the judiciary and the establishment of a revolutionary court that publicly prosecutes all symbols of corruption and killers of the revolutionaries,” he added.
The protesters set up a podium for speakers while handing the pictures of the Suez martyrs on its pillars.
Presidential hopefuls Islamic scholar Hazem Abu Ismail and Judge Hisham El-Batawisy joined the protesters, giving speeches after Friday prayers, while several hundred Cairene activists were in Suez since Thursday night in a show of solidarity.
After 1 pm, a thug fired a shot in the air, injuring one protester. Demonstrators quickly moved in, arrested him and handed him to the army forces on the scene.
The wounded protester was rushed to hospital. No further details about his condition were available at time of press.
El-Arbaein, named by citizens the Martyrs’ Square, witnessed the murder of the first protester shot on the night of Jan. 25.
Official reports say that 29 were killed and 1,000 others injured in Suez during clashes with security last January.
Meanwhile, thousands held mass protests in Alexandria. The protesters first met outside El-Qaed Ibrahim Mosque in the square downtown carrying the same name. Then others emerged from side streets and along the corniche.
Two marches moved afterwards to Sidi Gaber and El-Manshiya districts, while many marched to the northern sector, where army forces were deployed, making the same demands.
Others remained at El-Qaed Ibrahim square, vowing to hold an open sit-in till their demands are met.
The protesters reiterated their demands for the rights of the revolution victims and the swift trials of Mubarak, former interior minister Habib El-Adly and other ex-officials.
Several injured victims gave speeches on the podiums. Almost all political forces were represented in the protests.
The demonstrators chanted the old slogan they adopted before Mubarak was ousted: “The people want to overthrow the regime.”
“We still believe the regime was not toppled. What happened is that Mubarak left but the same old system remained,” activist Nada Nashaat told DNE.
“It is true the SCAF is supposed to have no authority over the judiciary. But how come police officers accused of shooting protesters in Suez are set free on bail while others are still in service and even promoted?” she asked.
In a related development, about 4000 protesters, including tourism workers and political forces, gathered in front of El-Moustafa Mosque in Sharm El-Sheikh then marched to Sharm El-Sheikh International Hospital where Mubarak is detained pending trial in August.
The protesters denounced Mubarak’s presence in the Red Sea resort, saying it has a negative impact on tourism, leading to financial losses. They called for prosecuting Mubarak, his wife and sons, who are facing corruption charges.
Gamal and Alaa Mubarak are currently held in Tora prison pending further investigations into the charges against them. The ex-first lady Suzanne Thabet had earlier been released after giving up LE 24 million and a villa in Cairo’s Heliopolis neighborhood.
“Mubarak, get out so Sinai can become like heaven again,” protesters shouted, questioning the severity of his medical condition which requires him to remain hospitalized.
Unconfirmed reports said Mubarak was moved to another room not overlooking the street where protesters gathered.
Central Security Forces cordoned off the hospital as doctors and nurses took off their white coats fearing that protesters may attack them.
In the North Sinai capital of Al-Arish, thousands of worshipers gathered outside El-Refa’y Mosque in El-Horriya Square after the Friday prayers.
The protesters were joined by thousands of others who flocked from different mosques and neighborhoods to reiterate the same demands of others around the country.
The demonstrators chanted: “The People want the prosecution of the corrupt.”
All national forces in North Sinai reportedly participated in the demonstration except Al-Wafd Party.
“We took to the streets today after we sensed a state of procrastination in bringing to trial former corrupt officials,” said El-Karama Nasserist Party senior member Mohamed Khataby.
El-Wasat Islamist party coordinator in North Sinai Nahed Essam El-Az’ar said the people protested to say that “the revolution has not yet succeeded.”
Afterwards, the demonstrators marched to the nearby local municipality building where they continued the protest. –Additional reporting by Hatem El-Buluk from Al-Arish and Yahia Nasser from Sharm El-Sheikh.
Protesters in front of Sharm El-Sheikh Internaitonal Hospital where ousted President Mubarak is detained believe that his presence is taking its toll on tourism. (Daily News Egypt Photo / Yahia Nasser)