Friday, July 8, 2011

July 8th sit-in

Just got back from Tahrir Square, which saw large protests today. Plenty of summaries of the day out there, so I'll spare the details. The day had a familiar vibe to it; the atmosphere felt much like a festival, and different political parties set up various stages to rally the crowd and engage in some old fashioned self-promotion.

I think what's significant is not the number of Egyptians who made an appearance during the day, but the number of people who are staying overnight in the square. Where as protests usually taper off around sundown, there were thousands still there about an hour ago- presumably there to stay. The sit-in aspect to protests today is what's strategically important, and many activists were complaining that the event was inaccurately reported by the media as a "march" rather than its intended purpose. If Egyptians can sustain large numbers of people in Tahrir, they may gain some important leverage over the Supreme Council of Armed Forces on issues like trials for former regime members and the release of political prisoners.

UPDATE: It's Saturday, and thousands of protesters still control Tahrir. According to an Al Ahram Online report, "Tahrir Square is now completely occupied, and closed to traffic." What's more impressive, a list of common demands has emerged from the various political forces in the square, including:
  • The immediate release of all civilians who have been sentenced by military courts and their retrial before civilian courts
  • The establishment of a special court for implicated in the killing of protesters during the January 25 Revolution. All implicated police officers are to be suspended immediately.
  • The sacking of the current minister of the interior and his replacement by a civilian appointee, and a full restructuring of the Ministry of Interior, placing it under judicial oversight.
  • The sacking of the current prosecutor general 
  • Trials for Hosni Mubarak and members of his clique for crimes committed against the Egyptian people
  • Annulment of the current budget and the drawing up of a new draft budget that responds to the basic demands of the nation’s poor
  • Clear and open delineation of the prerogatives of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, ensuring its powers do not infringe on the powers and prerogatives of the cabinet


  1. Interesting - there was a lot of coverage in the US and it was mostly captured as reflective of general dissatisfaction with progress. One report focused on the growing prominence of the Brotherhood, showing January and July photos of their offices (now very large and plush) as an indication of their changed status. Americans always focus on real estate to assess the world!

  2. Thanks much for your comment. There is certainly a fear of the rising MB among many of the liberal activists in Tahrir Square. But July 8th protests would't have been nearly as big without the support of the Brotherhood and even various Salafist groups!

    For the record, I'm curious as to what the Brotherhood's offices look like! If you have the articles handy, I'd love a link.