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Tens of thousands of Egyptians converged on Tahrir Square Friday for a rally dubbed "Friday of Reclaiming Honor" to protest against military and police forces' assaults on demonstrators over the past week.
Marches around Cairo — including from Mostafa Mahmoud mosque in Mohandiseen and Esteqama mosque in Giza— arrived at the symbolic square to demonstrate anger with clashes that broke out on 16 December, when the military attempted to forcefully disperse a sit-in outside the cabinet building. At least 17 were killed and hundreds injured in the ensuing violence.
The privately owned OnTV channel reported that a women's march from Abdel Moneim Riyad Street also joined the protest.
The Dostor news website estimated the number of protesters at 50,000.
Protesters could be heard chanting, "The people are the red line; down with military rule."
A march from Cairo University to Tahrir Square was scheduled to take off at 3 pm, Al-Ahram's Arabic website reported. The story added that maches from Ain Shams, Helwan and Tanta universities, as well as the American University in Cairo and the German University in Cairo, were expected to join the Cairo University march.
Tahrir protesters closed off the square prior to Friday prayers and popular committees were stationed at its entrances to inspect people entering and divert cars heading toward the square.
The imam of the Friday prayers called on the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to hand over power to a civilian presidential council.
Protesters surrounded the garden in the middle of the square with a large Egyptian flag, creating some openings in its sides for people to enter. They also set up two tents in the garden, one of which contained a photo exhibition for martyrs of the revolution and caricatures of former Mubarak regime officials.
A video circulated on the internet of a female protester being stripped and dragged by the military police in the street has raised outrage against the military in some segments of Egyptian society.
Banners were hung around the square expressing the protesters' demands. They chanted slogans like: “Come down from your homes, Tantawi stripped your daughters,” to urge nearby residents to join them.
Protesters are demanding the SCAF hand over power to a civilian authority; the dismissal of recently appointed Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri; the formation of an independent judicial panel to investigate the killing of protesters in the latest round of violence, including speedy trials for the perpetrators; and the release of detained protesters.
Various political forces had originally called for the demonstration on Tuesday, including the Wasat Party, Free Egyptians Party, Tagammu Party, Egyptian Current Party, Egypt Social Democratic Party, Ghad Party, Adl Party, April 6 Youth Movement and Kefaya movement.
The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and Jama'a al-Islamiya said they would not participate in the protest.