- Posted April 14, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Turbulence, violence in the Middle East
Thousands Gather in Tahrir Square to Protest Egyptian Presidential Candidates
Friday April 13th was a day of protests in the center of Cairo. Early in the morning, thousands of protesters flocked to Tahrir Square for a scheduled noon rally to protest Oman Suleiman and other Mubarak regime members participating in the new government; and Hazem Salah Abu Ismail’s apparent ban from running for President.
Hundreds of people began arriving as early as 6am to stake out prime spots along the sides of the square. They brought their blankets, couch cushions and picnic lunches. Fathers and mothers had their children in tow. Street vendors sold a variety of easy-to-go meals. Egyptian flags obscured much of the square. It was going to be an all-day affair. And in fact, the protests at Tahrir lasted well past 9pm. As one taxi driver put it, “You don’t go near Tahrir [today]. It’s closed.”
A point of contention that sparked yesterday’s protests was Omar Suleiman’s bid for the presidency. The former Egyptian army general announced on April 6th that he would run for the office of the President. Suleiman, a long time figure in the Mubarak regime, was appointed at the end of last January to the post of Vice President. He only served for a few weeks before Mubarak and his government was ousted by the Revolution. To many of the protestors in Tahrir Square he symbolized the old regime that they worked so hard to topple.
Just the day prior to Friday’s protests, Egypt’s new parliament passed legislation banning top officials who served under the former dictator, Hosni Mubarak, from being elected to prominent offices in the new government. This law will not go into effect until the military approves it. This may be unlikely with a minister in the army cabinet terming the law a deviation from Egypt’s path and a ploy to target a few individuals, Suleiman being one of them.
The Muslim Brotherhood coordinated Friday’s Tahrir Square protests, though most people at the gathering did not hear about the event directly from the political organization. “They learned of the protest through Facebook,” Sayed Ali, a local archaeologist explained, “The party [the Brotherhood] created a Facebook event and people shared it with family and friends.” A prominent member of the Brotherhood spoke to the crowd of thousands. People sat on the ground and quietly listened for over two hours as the speaker condemned Suleiman’s run for presidency.
Also, at the protest were supporters of Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, The Salafist candidate, who was thought ineligible for the presidency because his mother had US citizenship. These supporters paraded around signs of their candidate and spoke to the “injustice” of their presidential candidate being banned from the elections.
By 9pm, only Ismail supporters were left in Tahrir Square and they had much to celebrate. Egypt’s highest court had announced late yesterday that Ismail’s mother did not in fact have US Citizen; he would be allowed to run for President of Egypt.