Thousands of Egyptians crowded into Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday (and in other Egyptian cities) in what organizers labeled a "second revolution," as security forces stayed away to avoid confrontations and the Muslim Brotherhood, a powerful Islamist group, kept its distance out of concern that the demonstrations would only further divide the country. What were the protesters demanding? A tour of today's signs provides some answers.
One critical demand is an end to government corruption--a grievance, Reuters points out, that first brought protesters out into the now-iconic Tahrir Square in January. But the new demonstrations are somewhat sprawling in their critiques of the regime. Take, for instance, one activist's pop culture reference to link the old Egypt regime to neighboring Libya: posters that depict ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi as the gay cowboys from Brokeback Mountain, with the word "mafia" underneath.
Protesters are also demanding a public criminal trial for Mubarak and his family and former aides. On Tuesday, Egyptian authorities announced, in a move that some interpreted as an attempt to temper today's demonstrations, that Mubarak will be tried for ordering the deadly shooting of protesters, abusing power, and squandering public funds. This AP photo shows a banner depicting Mubarak and his wife and declaring, "No forgiveness, our children's blood is not cheap."
Another poster, captured by Reuters, showed Mubarak at the Sharm El-Sheikh hospital where he's under government detention saying, "I'm happy here in Sharm."
The protesters also called for the ruling military council's to stop its military trials against civilians (in The Guardian this morning, activist Wael Khalil wrote, "We refuse to trade our security with our basic rights"). AFP adds that demonstrators want a civilian government and a new constitution before elections. Of course, the protesters aren't all speaking with one voice. As Egyptian journalist Lina Attalah tweeted, "Liberals talking on stage abt civil state, while leftists are talking about state corruption and social justice." In this AP photo, protesters sit by a banner that reads, "The Constitution first."
Not everyone agrees with the sentiments expressed by the activists in Tahrir Square today, however. Hundreds gathered in Cairo's al-Hussein district this morning to express support for the military. In this Reuters photo, a military supporter displays a shirt that reads, "For the sake of our country, we want to be ruled by the army."