Not all Egyptian demonstrators calling for freedom
Some of the young people demonstrating in Al Tahrir Square on the Second Friday of Anger were not expressing their discontent with the Government’s for allegedly tarrying in helping the revolutionaries achieve their goals.
The protest included hundreds of thousands of citizens, marginalised by Mubarak’s regime, who called on the Government to give them more money so they can feed their families in the face of the alarming price rises.
There were also a lot of middle-aged couples in the demonstration, appealing to the armed forces to release their sons, who were imprisoned for allegedly participating in previous mass demonstrations.
Claims by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood and pro-Government voices that the Second Friday of Anger would be exploited by foreign circles to disrupt society didn’t persuade these middle-aged couples to stay at home.
Innocently explaining that she didn’t even know what a ‘foreign conspiracy’ might be, a woman wearing a black galabiya and headscarf said that, foreign conspiracies or not, her boy was given 20 years in jail for allegedly taking part in a violent brawl in the district, where they live.
The poor mother was spotted by Al-Wafd opposition newspaper as she told her story to some of the other protesters.
She said that she wanted someone to draw the Government’s attention to her plight, claiming that, although her son was not involved in the brawl, he was arrested by the military police and accused of rioting and terrorising citizens.
“My son is now in Torah Prison and there’s no-one to provide for his wife and their two daughters,” said the woman, who stayed in Al Tahrir for the whole demonstration. She dearly hopes that someone will help her.
“I want my son to stand retrial because he is innocent,” she said. “He and his friends were just onlookers, standing in the street, watching the brawl.”
The woman, her daughter-in-law and her two granddaughters live in Batan el-Baqara, an infamous district of Old Cairo.
Standing next to her was a man called Mohamed Ahmed, loudly chanting anti-Government slogans and calling upon the Minister of Social Solidarity to increase his tiny pension.
On his way to Al Tahrir Square from his village in el-Sharqiya Governorate, thieves tricked him out of his wallet. “How am I going to pay for the microbus home?” Mohamed wondered.
As for Alaa Fathi, from the Upper Egyptian City of Beni Sueif, he said that the Government must resign immediately.
Ahmed used to work in a factory in Beni Sueif, but “the Governor did nothing when the manager fired me and destroyed my family”.
He was given the sack, when he led his colleagues in a protest for higher wages. They sought the help of the Beni Sueif Governor, but no-one listened to him. His colleagues lost their jobs too.
A street child, who ran away from his family several months ago, confessed that he’d come to Al Tahrir out of curiosity, not to protest. The boy, who gave his name as Ahmed Abdel-Moneim, spent the afternoon trying to figure out what the demonstrators were up to.