Around 30,000 protesters gathered in Tahrir Square Friday to protest the ruling military council's performance and their numbers continued to rise into the late afternoon for the demonstration dubbed “Correcting the Path of the Revolution.”
Some of those present since midday prayers were discouraged that turnout was lower than organizers had hoped for, however the crowd was steadily swelling and was expected to reach 50,000 before the demonstration’s scheduled 6 pm end time.
“It is the first Friday after Ramadan, and summertime. I believe that the number will increase in the coming demonstrations,” said political activist and blogger Ahmed Gharbeia.
Several marches feeding into Tahrir from around Cairo have been adding a steady stream of protesters. One group came from the Israeli Embassy in Dokki, while the April 6 Youth Movement also came from Mohandiseen with at least 500 supporters.
Islamist groups were, as expected, not present in the square. April 6, secular revolutionary groups, as well as the football fans known as Ahly and Zamalek “Ultras” led most of the chants.
The Ultras, who have been active in many demonstrations throughout the revolution, came in the wake of clashes at an Ahly soccer game, where 90 fans were arrested. Around 200 Ultras marched to the Ministry of Interior to protest the arrests, demand police reform and chant against former Minister Habib al-Adly.
Adly is facing trial, along with former President Hosni Mubarak, on charges of killing protesters during the revolution.
“The Interior Ministry before the revolution is the same as after the revolution in how it treats us soccer supporters,” said Qadry Adel, 21.
Members of the Independent Farmers’ Union also participated in the protest, despite a government-planned celebration of Farmers’ Day occurring at the Cairo Stadium and attended by the heads of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
“We are protesting corruption in the Ministry of Agriculture and calling for regulations to make Egypt agriculturally independent,” said the secretary general of the union’s Giza branch, Misbah Asaker.
Around 100 members of the Farmers Union assembled in Tahrir after protesting at the Agriculture Ministry.
Asaker claims that farmers who went to the SCAF celebration were paid LE50 and provided with food and transportation.
In the square, protesters loudly voiced anger over the continued practice of trying civilians in military courts.
“We are here today to raise awareness as to the sheer breadth of military trials around the country and to pressure the SCAF to stop the military trials,” said Director of the No to Military Trials group Mona Seif.
The group claims that more than 12,000 civilians have been tried in military courts since March.
“Military trials are an infringement on the right of Egyptians, and must end immediately,” said legal activist and former MP Gamal Zahran, speaking from Tahrir’s main stage.
Many of the demonstrators focused their anger on the continued state of lawlessness in the country that many of them see as a deliberate attempt by counter-revolutionary forces to promote instability.
“The Egyptian Army is great and, along with the Ministry of Interior, could put an end to any gang of thugs if they want to. They are letting them be to keep us living in a state of fear,” said director Khaled Yousef.
Many in the square also called on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to revisit the newly devised laws regarding parliamentary elections.
“The new laws open the doors for material politics to dominate, just as it did before the revolution,” said political analyst Ammar Ali Hassan while in the square Friday.
Demonstrators are gearing up for a march to the Judges’ Club at 5 pm to call for fair elections, fair trials for former regime officials, the abolition of military trials and repatriating funds allegedly stolen by corrupt public officials.
Around 100 people were also headed to the Israeli Embassy to resume protests that began there last month following an Israeli border raid that killed five Egyptian security and police officers.