Egyptians demand deeper and faster reforms
Thousands of Egyptians packed Cairo’s Tahrir Square Friday in what organizers called a “second revolution” to push for faster reforms and a speedy trial for ousted President Hosni Mubarak and his former aides.
Activists complain of delays in putting Mubarak, his family and members of his ousted regime on trial and that the army has not restored order quickly enough to the country of 80 million.
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Egyptians are also demanding an end to endemic graft, one of the main grievances that drove thousands of protesters onto the streets in the uprising that began on January 25.
“After some 1,000 martyrs … people do not see any change,” said Mustafa Ali Menshawi, a 38-year-old accountant, who was helping marshal crowds flooding into the square.
“The only change we see is that the Mubarak metro station has been changed to the Martyrs station,” he said.
In a move seen as aimed at appeasing protesters, authorities Tuesday ordered Mubarak to stand trial on charges of graft and “pre-meditated killing” of protesters during the uprising that ousted him on February 11.
If convicted, Mubarak could face the death penalty. He has been detained at a hospital in the tourist Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since April when he was reported to have suffered heart problems during an initial questioning.
Hundreds staged a protest in front of the hospital calling for his departure. They said his presence was driving tourists away, according to state TV.
FLAGS, PLACARDS AND NO SOLDIERS
The ruling military council withdrew the army from near the protests in Cairo and has ordered security forces to stay away.
Tahrir Square was decked with Egyptian flags and placards demanding that officials who worked under Mubarak and squandered state funds be investigated.
“We want to dissolve all local councils that are famous for being the most and worst corrupt institutions during Mubarak’s regime,” said Mohammed Adel, of the April 6 Youth group.
“We also ask that all political powers get involved in the drafting of important political laws,” Adel added.
Thousands of Egyptians also took to the streets in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and in the Suez Canal’s cities of Suez and Ismailia. Smaller protests also took place in northern Sinai and in the city of Port Said on the Suez Canal.
However, some Egyptians expressed opposition to the protests, saying military rulers needed time to sort things out. A few hundred gathered in Cairo’s al-Hussein area to express support for Egypt’s military rulers, chanting: “For the sake of our country, we want to be ruled by the army.”
Some political parties, including Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood, said no protests were needed and warned they could lead to confrontations between the army and demonstrators.
The absence of the Brotherhood angered some protesters, some of whom chanted: “Where is the Brotherhood?”
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, in a Facebook message posted Thursday, called on protesters to exercise caution Friday, saying there were “suspicious elements trying to take actions that would sow strife between Egypt’s people and the military.”