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Tahrir Square protests

Revolutionary groups and others flock to Tahrir Square on the ‘Friday of dignity or departure’, clashes reported near presidential palace

Protesters in Tahrir Square chant anti-Morsi slogans (Mohamed Omar)
Protesters in Tahrir Square chant anti-Morsi slogans (Mohamed Omar)

A number of political and revolutionary groups and scores of others gathered in Tahrir Square today.

The daytime protests were peaceful, although across Cairo state-run Ahram reported that some clashes had broken out in front of the presidential palace.

The Popular Current called for a ‘million-man’ protest today in Tahrir Square under the banner “The Friday of dignity or departure”.

Many demonstrators not affiliated with any party or political group also flocked to the square today, determined to voice their demands and frustrations.

“If you want your voice to be heard,” said Mostafa Borham. “Go to Tahrir.” Borham, who came with friends today from Alexandria, was sporting a red bandana on his head with the words “The Brotherhood are liars” printed on the front. He explained why he chose to come all the way to Cairo despite a march being held in the port city today by the 6 April Youth Movement. “This Square is still the place to be if you want to really voice your opinion. This is the place that brought down Mubarak, and we need it full to the brim with people every Friday if we want to send a message to the president and the Brotherhood.”

Fatma Hegazy, an IT specialist from the Mohandessin area of Cairo, who was walking alone with a friend holding a sign saying “Egyptian women are not afraid”, said that despite the recent reports of sexual harassment at Tahrir Square and elsewhere she will continue to protest. “If I could protest every day, I would,” she said. Speaking specifically of men who may be reluctant to take female friends or family members to protests given the rise of this phenomenon, she said: “I want to tell every brother, father and husband in Egypt, don’t be afraid; we [women] are not afraid, so why should you?”

“This is nothing new,” she continued. “As women, we’re used to this [harassment].” She also commented that she believed the recent attacks on women in the square were clearly organised, with the intention of driving women away from protesting.

Twenty-six year-old Bahgat Magdy from Fayoum has been camped out in Tahrir Square since Thursday night. “I’ve come here today all the way from Fayoum to tell the President to go,” said Magdy. “We have simply had enough. Where is the change that we called for, and which people died for. I has been seven months since Morsi took over and things are getting even worse.”

Twenty-nine year old Eslam was also at the square today with his five year-old son and wife. He carried his son, who was holding an Egyptian flag and sporting a black balaclava on his head, on his shoulders. “I’ve dressed him up like this in solidarity with the Black Bloc,” he explained. Commenting on why he supported the group, he said: “It’s a natural response to the violence we have seen from the Brotherhood’s militias. I’ve come here with my family; I feel safer knowing such people are here to protect us.”

The Maspero Youth Coalition also held a march today at 1pm proceeding from the Shubra to the presidential palace demanding “Justice for the revolution’s martyrs”.

Today was the first time 55 year-old former guard Salah Abu Mohamed protested at Tahrir. Holding a picture of former President Gamal Abdel Nasser with the words “The revolution continues” printed underneath, he expressed his regret over not coming to the square before. He also compared Morsi to Nasser. “I want a president I can be proud of,” he said. “One who is a real leader, who doesn’t take orders from anyone, who doesn’t make a decision and go back on it.”

Pointing to Nasser’s picture, he said: “If I could resurrect this man and place him on the presidential chair, I would. But I can’t, so I have come here to Tahrir.”

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