For the second day, Egyptian protesters have occupied Cairo’s Tahrir Square to demand President Mohamed Morsi’s resignation on the anniversary of his election. Egyptian citizens are outraged that Morsi’s term thus far has been more about strengthening his Islamist Party than it has been about fixing the country’s actual problems. While the number of protesters currently in downtown Cairo is unknown – some media outlets are estimating more than a million people – the Tamarod (“Rebel”) movement claims to have approximately 22 million signatures asking Morsi to step down.
The Tamarod has been championed as a movement of ordinary people, with students, workers and even police officers making up the masses camped out in Tahrir Square since the campaign’s co-founder Mahmoud Badr and others called upon those opposed to an Islamist State to take to the streets. While some of Morsi’s cabinet members have already stepped down, including his foreign minister, the president has refused, as his own supporters have begun to organize counter-demonstrations.
Additionally, the Egyptian military issued a warning to the government that if the people’s demands were not met within 48 hours and a resolution was not established, it would take control of the government and impose a temporary council made up of citizens to create a new constitution and develop a new plan for election. Morsi has defied that warning to this point, claiming that he was elected by the people and he’s going to continue to serve as president.
“The people of Egypt gave me the mandate for president. They chose me in a free election. The people created a constitution which requires me to stay with the constitution,” he said in a televised speech. “I have no choice but to bear responsibility for the Egyptian constitution.” (Via CNN)
While a considerable number of images and videos have been posted to Twitter and Facebook over the past two days, this recent Vine – as well as the banner image – shows what Tahrir Square has looked like within the past several hours.
Initial reports have also described the protests as mostly peaceful; however, at least 16 deaths have been reported outside the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters. Even worse, other media outlets are reporting that sexual assaults have become a rampant problem in the wake of the rape of a 22-year old Dutch journalist by five men last Friday. The Tamarod has reportedly responded to claims of violence by recruiting and assigning “tens of thousands” of people as lookout to stop such behavior, while Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment claims 44 women were sexually assaulted on the first day of the protests.