No Easy Road to Freedom – Egypt

Tahrir Square – Cairo – night shot

Protesting has become a daily bread in Egypt though the Parliamentary elections are underway. Every Friday you expect something new in the media. Cairo’s Tahrir Square is the best place to watch this weekly scenario.

Since January 25th, each Friday has been given names for the upcoming demonstrations at Tahrir, but almost all demands are identical.

Yesterday, as it was the “Friday of Regaining Honour,” people gathered at the Square and performed the Friday Congregation, after which protests started, demonstrating against the way how the military is handling protests – it was a protest for protest -. A member of the N.A.C.R Movement, Ahmad Darag, told Ahram Online from Tahrir Square that the Egyptians pay the military’s salaries; they pay for the weapons used to kill protesters and beat female activists.”

Number of protesters grew substantially after quite a few scheduled marches congregated on the square in the afternoon, including from Al-Azhar Mosque (roughly 5,000 protesters) and another two marches from Cairo University and Ain Shams (a combined 5,000 protesters).

This protest is considered as the first of its kind to be held a week after the  violent clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters in which at least 17 of the protesters were killed and hundreds injured.

A small group of protesters also turned out in the Nile Delta city of Tanta just after Friday prayers to demand an end to military rule, while similar demonstrations were also reported in the cities of Port Said, Ismailia and Luxor.

Friday also particularly witnessed a counter-demonstration in Cairo’s Abassiya Square, in which hundreds of SCAF supporters shouted slogans against their counterparts in Tahrir Square, whom they accused of attempting to destabilise the country.

Pro-SCAF demonstrators directed chants against would-be presidential contender Mohamed ElBaradei, newly-elected MP Amr Hamzawy and Tahrir Square protesters in general, including female activists.

“ElBaradei is the enemy of God,” some shouted. “ElBaradei and Hamzawy are foreign agents.”

A number of journalists were reportedly attacked by protesters in Abbasiya Square, including reporters from Tahrir TV, ONTV, Al Jazeera’s live Egypt channel and the BBC.

In Alexandria, meanwhile, a small group of activists staged a pro-SCAF rally in front of Ras El-Teen Palace in the west of the city.