Egyptians Fill Tahrir Square For Largest Protest Since Fall of Mubarak

12 Jul 2011

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On Friday, 8 July 2011, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square for what could be the largest demonstration since the uprising that toppled former president, Hosni Mubarak. They say there has been little progress on reforms promised in the five months since the uprising.

Democracy Now correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous provides a live update from Tahrir Square. "There is a sense the revolution is being stolen from beneath people’s feet here," says Kouddous.

Below, you will find a transcript of this clip courtesy of Democracy Now. For an update on developments in Tahrir Square, please click here. You might also be interested in Kudos to Egypt for Ditching the IMF.


JUAN GONZALEZ: We turn now to Egypt where a massive demonstration is underway in Tahrir Square. It has been five months since the uprising that led to the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak, and many Egyptians say few of its goals have been met. In Suez on Monday, riots were sparked by a court order to release seven policemen charged with killing demonstrators. On Tuesday, the courts acquitted three former government ministers over corruption allegations.

AMY GOODMAN: Activists and political groups including the Muslim Brotherhood have called for more than a million people to protest today in Tahrir square. It could be the biggest Friday protest yet since the uprising. For more, we go to Tahrir, where Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous is joining us live. Hi Sharif, what is happening right now?

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Hi Amy, it’s good to be with you. Amy, today is possibly the biggest protest since the 18-day uprising. Tahrir Square is absolutely filled to the gills. Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people here, who have gathered today to call to protect the revolution and continue its goal. Many feel the direction of the country five months after Hosni Mubarak was toppled is going the wrong direction. The head of the Mubarak regime, Hosni Mubarak, his son, the senior leadership, are all gone, but many feel that the body and soul of the former regime still remains.

One of the reasons this is so big today is that there’s been issues that have been really building and have boiled over in the last few weeks, which began, really, with the postponement of the trial of Habib el-Adly, for the killing of protesters in the 18-day uprising. His [UNINTELLIGIBLE] and that sparked clashes outside the courtroom where the families of the martyrs, killed in the revolution, had gathered. They clashed with police outside. And this issue of justice and accountability continued to go on two days after that postponement. Families of martyrs were reportedly beaten and arrested by police at a theater here in Cairo, that sparked clashes with thousands of protesters again in Tahrir Square and faced off with Central Security forces. More than a 1,000 people were injured. The police resorted to the same brutal tactics that they have used in the past, Hosni Mubarak used, rubber bullets and tear gas. Some human rights groups documented the use of live ammunition. Over 1,000 people were injured.

So, people are out calling for justice, they’re calling for accountability of former regime members. People are calling for reform of the police forces, of the purging of the security forces of known human rights abusers, many whom are still operating with impunity. It is unbelievable not one person, not one police officer is in prison for the killing of nearly 850 people during the uprising five months ago. Not one — only one police officer has been convicted in absentia, but no one else.

This really began escalating again, as you mentioned, in the run-up, in Suez just a few days ago. Suez is really the scene of some of the most violent clashes with police during, when the revolution first began. It is where the first person killed was, on January 25. The trial of seven police officers, in Suez, accused of killing protesters was postponed until September. The seven police officers were free to go on bail. This sparked outrage by the families, by protesters outside that clashed with police. They have been occupying the square, in Suez, a square called Arbaeen Square, for the past four days. And then on Tuesday of this week, a criminal court acquitted the former Information Minister, and that’s al-Fikki, and the former Finance Minister, Yusuf Boutros-Ghali, on corruption charges.

So, it’s all of these things that have culminated and people are worried that ex-officials are going to receive light sentences. And as it happens, as we’ve spoken on Democracy Now!, that more than 6,000 civilians have been tried and convicted in military court. There’s a growing sentiment that the revolution is being stolen from beneath people’s feet here.

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