Egyptians have gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square as anger and frustration mounts due to the lack of significant changes in the country since the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak.
The rally, which followed Friday prayers in the capital, comes after the government fired more than 600 senior police officers, pushed parliamentary elections to the end of the year and imposed limits on the committee set to create a new constitution.
Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros, reporting from Tahrir Square on Friday, said the crowds were growing in number.
“As the sun went down and the tempratures became manageable, more and more people filled up the square. what they lacked in terms of numbers at the beginning of the day, they have certainly made up for with energy at the end of the day,” she said
Protesters are calling for a week-long sit-in that will begin on Friday. Among their key demands are an end to the military trials of civilians and the open and speedy trials of former regime officials.
Although the government has taken some measures to instill change, many Egyptians feel they have not gone far enough, she said.
“The main demand that people have here … is that they want to see all those who have been accused of killing protesters during the revolution – whether they are former regime officials, lower ranking police officers, or even higher ranking police officers – they want to see them all on trial immediately.”
“They don’t know why it’s taking so many months to get to this point. They feel still that the only way to make their voices heard is to come to Tahrir Square.”
Tahrir Square in central Cairo was the epicentre of Egypt’s 18-day anti-government uprising, which culminated in Mubarak’s eventual resignation in February.
Hundreds of people camped out in the square on Thursday to press Egypt’s military rulers to punish corruption and brutality under Mubarak’s regime.
“As the days go past and that demand is not met, people are calling louder and louder for the resignation of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and his entire cabinet,” our correspondent said.
Tadros said Sharaf had promised a cabinet reshuffle within the next few days, where all former members of the ruling regime would be moved out of their positions.
“But that seems to be too little too late for these people,” she added. Protesters are expecting big crowds to attend, but not all factions within Egyptian society will be present at the demonstration.
“There are some groups that are not taking part in the protests today, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi groups,” Tadros said.
‘Battle of the camel’ assault
On Thursday, a fact-finding judicial committee ruled that Safwat al-Sharif – a former speaker of Egypt’s upper house of parliament – masterminded the “battle of the camel” assault on February 2 that left left several protesters dead.
On the day, government loyalists rode horses and camels through the protest camp in Tahrir Square, in what was one of the bloodiest events in the uprising.
The investigation concluded that Sharif and other parliamentarians had hired thugs to attack crowds and that he urged them to “kill the protesters if they had to”, the state-run MENA news agency reported.
Egyptian prosecutors have also been investigating corruption allegations made against former officials and
businessmen connected with his 30 years in power.
Also on Thursday, authorities detained former prime minister Atef Obeid for 15 days to investigate
allegations he illegally sold land well below market value, judicial sources said.
Mubarak, who is at a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, is due to go on trial on August 3 over the deaths of more than 840 protesters.