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Egypt's Revolution Continues: Millions Pour Into Streets to Call for President's Ouster

As many as 17 million Egyptians protested President Mohamed Morsi Sunday--the country's largest demonstration since the 2011 revolution that ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak.
 
 
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The following is a transcript of Democracy Now!'s segment on the Egyptian protests.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Massive protests continued overnight across Egypt calling for the resignation of President Mohamed Morsi. Millions of people have turned out for the rallies that started early on Sunday morning in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where the crowds have been the largest since the 2011 revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak. Tens of thousands of people remain in Tahrir Square and outside the presidential palace, vowing to stay until Morsi steps down.

PROTESTER: [translated] I am a part of this revolution because this regime is worse than its predecessor. At least we didn’t have the problems we are seeing now, with no water, electricity, fuel. There’s nothing. It gets worse every day. So he should leave and let us choose someone else. And this time we need to choose correctly.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Protesters accuse Morsi of failing to address crucial economic and security problems in the year since he assumed power. Critics argue that the country’s first Islamist president has put the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood party ahead of the country’s wider interests. Anti-government demonstrators reportedly ransacked the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo and set it ablaze. Egyptian security forces said eight people have been killed in clashes around the headquarters since Sunday.

AMY GOODMAN: At least 16 deaths were reported across Egypt Sunday alone. Among those killed in days of unrest was Andrew Pochter, a 21-year-old Kenyon College student from Chevy Chase, Maryland. Officials said he died of his injuries after being stabbed in the chest during protests in the coastal city of Alexandria late on Friday.

Meanwhile, thousands of Morsi supporters staged a rally in the Cairo suburb of Nasr City. During a news conference, a presidential spokesman urged protesters to respect the democratic process.

EHAB FAHMY: [translated] The presidency and the president are completely open to conducting a real and serious national dialogue with the various political parties and national powers. Let me clarify a few things. Freedom of expression and the right to protest peacefully our rights that are enshrined and protected by the Constitution for all, but acts of violence, sabotage and killings are acts that are condemned and unjustified.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Egyptian presidential spokesman Ehab Fahmy.

We go now to Cairo to Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous. His most recent article for The Nation magazine is called "Egyptians to Morsi: 'We Don't Want You.’" Sharif is joining us from Tahrir Square, where, to say the least, it is very noisy.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Sharif. Can you talk about what is happening right now and the significance of this mass protest across Egypt over the weekend?

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Well, Amy, as you can hear behind me, there’s still thousands of protesters in Tahrir Square and also at the presidential palace. What happened yesterday was really one of the largest protests—some are calling it the largest—in Egypt’s history, a massive turnout that saw hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people take to the streets, fill Tahrir Square, fill the presidential palace, and not just in Cairo, but in Alexandria and cities across the Delta and in upper Egypt, as well, really a mass display of dissent that goes to show the revolutionary spirit in Egypt is still very much alive.

And this came, of course, as you mentioned, on the first anniversary of the inauguration of President Mohamed Morsi. He was elected one year ago with a very thin majority, a 51 percent majority, against a stalwart of the former regime, Ahmed Shafik. And since then, there has been a growing polarization amongst the political class, with the Muslim Brotherhood withdrawing more into itself and its Islamist supporters—they’ve even lost support among some Salafi groups, as well—while on the street and the lives of ordinary Egyptians have become much harder. Prices of food and medicine and other staple goods have gone up. Crime and insecurity and vigilante violence has increased. There’s electricity blackouts now in the hot summer months that occur every day. There are fuel shortages that cause tremendously long lines, that cause stifling traffic around the country. And so, what we saw yesterday was a coming together of Egyptians from many different walks of life, from ordinary Egyptians who are fed up with the difficulties of everyday life that have only worsened in this last year and since the revolution began, to members of the political class who are opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood, to members who are tied to the former regime who took to the streets to try and oust the Muslim Brotherhood, as well. So it was a very large display of dissent.

 
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