© 2024 Michigan State University Board of Trustees
Public Media from Michigan State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Opposition Protest In Cairo A Rare Show Of Unity


And let's go now to Cairo, where demonstrators swarmed Tahrir Square last night to denounce the Egyptian president's recent decision to give himself unchecked power. This was the largest protest since Mohamed Morsi became president last summer. And it was notable because Egypt's secular opposition found a rare moment of unity. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson was on the square and she sent this report.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Chanting in foreign language)

SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON, BYLINE: Waves of protesters marched into Tahrir Square from across Cairo. They shouted slogans heard during the revolution that ousted former leader Hosni Mubarak from power.


NELSON: Down, down with the Morsi regime, was a common refrain. The reasons people came were far more varied. Ghada Osama, a university student and observant Muslim wearing a headscarf, says she and her friends came to express their anger over Morsi's decrees.

GHADA OSAMA: (Foreign language spoken)

NELSON: He's a dictator, she says.

OSAMA: (Foreign language spoken)

NELSON: She complains that instead of reforming the police and ending poverty, Morsi is giving himself legislative and judicial powers. But businessman Amr Sa'ad says he came to protest Islamists being in charge of his country.

AMR SA'AD: As you can see, most of the people here are moderate Egyptians. And they want to bring back the normal Egypt, the moderate Egypt.



NELSON: Nineteen-year-old Tahrir protester Amna Magdy says she hoped their presence would send a strong message to the Brotherhood.

AMNA MAGDY: So, we still have hope that actually people are still aware that we are in a revolution and it's still continuing.

NELSON: But the group's officials dismissed the rally as sour grapes.

SOBHY SALEH: (Foreign language spoken)

NELSON: Reached by phone, Sobhy Saleh, who is a leader with the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, accused the protesters of being Mubarak-era remnants, or felool, and their supporters.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing in foreign language)

SALEH: Many protesters in Tahrir Square vowed to stay until the decrees were rescinded. But as is often the case here, few followed through. Live camera footage showed Egyptian police firing tear gas into the square this morning to try and disperse the dozens who remained.

NELSON: Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, NPR News, Cairo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Special correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is based in Berlin. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and read at NPR.org. From 2012 until 2018 Nelson was NPR's bureau chief in Berlin. She won the ICFJ 2017 Excellence in International Reporting Award for her work in Central and Eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Journalism at this station is made possible by donors who value local reporting. Donate today to keep stories like this one coming. It is thanks to your generosity that we can keep this content free and accessible for everyone. Thanks!