Last Friday, more than three months after former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power, tens of thousands of protesters poured into downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square for what they called a “Second Day of Rage.” In the largest demonstration since Mubarak stepped down, protesters called for the ruling military to hand over power to a civilian council, draw up a new constitution, and postpone September’s parliamentary election until new political parties can organize. Democracy Now! correspondents Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar filed this report.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Tahrir Square, the heart of Cairo, is filled once again with tens of thousands of Egyptians for what’s being called the Second Day of Rage. Four months after the Egyptian revolution began, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces is coming under growing criticism for its handling of the country since the fall of Hosni Mubarak.
GIGI IBRAHIM: I’m Gigi Ibrahim. I am a political with the Revolutionary Socialists and the Labor Democratic Party. I’m here today because we didn’t feel change. Our revolution is being hijacked by the military council. And we have demands that haven’t been met yet, so we’re here to list them and basically apply pressure from the square for the Supreme Council to implement those demands.
NOOR AYMAN: My name is Noor Ayman. I’m a law student at Cairo University. I graduated political sciences at American University of Cairo. Basically this banner consists all the demands, the specific demands, that have a relative amount of consensus among the people on the street now, including the end of military trials for civilians; setting a minimum wage and maximum wage within a time frame, with a specific time plan; demanding that the police come back to the streets in large quantities but with judicious provision; a purification of the media in Egypt; as well as trying Hosni Mubarak for grand treason because of his actions during the revolution.
SALAH ABDULLAH ATIYAH KHADRAGI: [translated] My name is Salah Abdullah Atiyah Khadragi from Zagazig, Sharqiya. I’m 28 years old. I came to Tahrir Square just like any Egyptian coming to Tahrir today. We announced the Second Friday of Rage, and I’ll tell you why: because the demands of the revolution have not been realized.
GIGI IBRAHIM: We need an end, a complete end, to all military trials for civilians. It’s completely unacceptable. Until now, more than 7,000 people have been tried in four months, basically in military courts. Most of them are falsely accused, are peaceful protesters and so on.
Second demand is for minimum wage, maximum wage, to be implemented or even given a plan for. It wasn’t even addressed until this point. Many people that took part in the revolution essentially came out because they don’t have a decent wage; they don’t have a decent, dignified life; and they want social equality, they want a dignified life that would be given through implementing a minimum wage.
LOBNA DARWISH: I’m Lobna Darwish. I’m a peace protester. I’m here today because we came here to make very, very clear that the demands of the revolution are still up. From the beginning of the revolution 'til now, we're seeing both lines. State media is either like supporting Mubarak or supporting now the high military council. They’re all saying that like the army is the red line, Mubarak is the red line, whatever is a red line. So we’ve been seeing that every initiative came out of citizen journalism in Egypt. There is a lot of people who have been tweeting, putting on Facebook their statuses, putting information online, applauding videos. And that’s where we got most of our information during the revolution at this moment. So we thought that putting all these efforts of citizen journalism together would bring a new source of media in Egypt that’s dependable, that’s free.
UNIDENTIFIED: [translated] We are here because we haven’t felt any change. Everything that we have achieved, the army is seeking to destroy. How can we be at a sit-in, and the army comes and attacks us on March 9th? I was one of the March 9th detainees, and I was just released just five days ago. I had a younger brother. He was the youngest martyr in Tahrir Square. He was 13 years old. For all these people who were martyred, it’s unacceptable that they died for nothing.
MOHAMED EL DAHSHAN: Mohamed El Dahshan is my name. I’m an activist. I’ve been here since the — well, I’ve been taking part in the protests since the very first day. And we’re back here because essentially our demands have not been met. And one of the basic slogans that we’ve had since January 25th was “bread, freedom and human dignity.” And we’re still demanding those three things, just that the culprits are no longer the police and their brutality, but now it’s the army. So, our demands are the same, so we’re still here.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: The calls for this protest have been going on actively for weeks. But one group is notably absent: the Muslim Brotherhood. They have been actively calling on people not to participate in today’s protest.
GIGI IBRAHIM: Many people thought that maybe because the Muslim Brotherhood are not joining that it’s not — the numbers are not going to be great. But just like you can see, it’s full. And we did that all on our own. There are liberal groups, socialist groups, independent groups, and activists and human rights and bloggers and journalists and just average citizens coming from all over. Transportation workers’ independent union is taking part. So there is a group from every — the Christians also [inaudible] protest, they’re also joining. So, a lot of different groups came out, because they feel that the change hasn’t come, and we need to push forward and have our demands met.
LOBNA DARWISH: Today, I think, was crucial, because through the last week, they have been treating, like, the whole country, like today is like the point we’re going to know whether the revolution is continuing or not. It became like this crucial moment that we know now that people can take the streets again. They can come out in big numbers, even though a lot of forces were not supporting today. Like, for example, Muslim Brotherhood were against today and are actually sending all these communiqués saying that people who are here today are against, like, the people of Egypt. And it’s really, really outrageous.
NOOR AYMAN: Lots of people call this a second revolution. No, it’s not. It’s merely a continuation of the first revolution, and it’s still not ended, still has a long way to go. This is just us finishing what we are trying to finish or continuing what we started.
SALAH ABDULLAH ATIYAH KHADRAGI: [translated] We want the price of the blood of the martyrs that was spilled on this square. I was asked once on TV about this square. I said it means freedom. And nothing is more precious to an Egyptian than freedom.
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: It’s nighttime in Tahrir, and the square is still packed. Tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered here today to call for reform and to call for freedom, and to send a message to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that the revolution is still ongoing.
For Democracy Now!, I’m Sharif Abdel Kouddous, with Nicole Salazar, in Cairo, Egypt.