Tens of thousands of Egyptian protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday, calling for the removal of their interim government and an end to the country's notorious 30-year-old emergency law.
GlobalPost's Jon Jensen reports from Cairo that the peaceful demonstration in Tahrir came just one day after violent protests in Maadi, an upscale suburb just south of Egypt's capital. Hundreds of protesters occupied a square in Maadi on Thursday, torching two security vehicles following a police shooting of a microbus driver there, Jensen wrote.
The new wave of demonstrations comes just two weeks after the ouster of Egypt's former president, Hosni Mubarak, placing new pressure on the country's new military leadership to enact greater political reforms.
Egypt's military — which took power following Mubarak's resignation on Feb. 11 — has been struggling to restore calm and order following weeks of protests and strikes in the Arab world's largest nation.
Much of the anger on Friday was directed squarely at Mubarak holdovers in Egypt’s new cabinet, specifically Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, a top ally of the former president.
“We will stay here until Shafik leaves,” said Hatem Amin, 34, an activist protester. “He is a part of the old regime, and just as corrupt as Mubarak.”
In Bahrain, pro-democracy demonstrations blocked miles of downtown roads and highways in Manama, the capital, on Friday, according to the New York Times.
The mass rally was held to honor the victims killed in the recent police crackdown. At least seven protesters have been killed during clashes with security forces since the beginning of pro-democracy protests in Bahrain on Feb. 14.
Protesters demand major reform including the election of the prime minister and the creation of a "real" constitutional monarchy, according to Press TV.
Meanwhile, the leader of Bahrain's largest opposition party told CNN Friday that he'd been prevented from returning home, after being detained in Lebanon, where the authorities seized his passport, saying there was a warrant for him from Interpol, the international police organization.
Hassan Mushaimaa, leader of the Haq Movement, pointed to underhanded tactics by the Bahraini government.
"My lawyer confirmed that no such warrant has been issued," Mushaimaa said Friday. "If I was wanted by the Interpol, I would have not been allowed to leave London.
"What is happening to me would show clearly how this regime [in Bahrain] is using lies and deceptions. How can there be a call for national dialogue while I am banned from returning to Bahrain?" Iraq
At least six people were killed when thousands of Iraqis took to the streets Friday to protest against corruption and a lack of basic services in an organized nationwide "day of rage."
News reports say the deaths occurred as demonstrators tried to storm government buildings in at least two northern Iraqi cities, Mosul and Hawija.
In the capital, Baghdad, protesters reportedly clashed with riot police, sometimes violently. Hundreds of people carrying Iraqi flags and banners streamed into Tahrir Square, which was under heavy security, according to Al Jazeera.
Elsewhere, demonstrators knocked down blast walls, threw rocks and scuffled with club-wielding troops.
Friday's demonstration, planned for weeks, is the latest in a series of protests in Iraq. Demonstrators have been calling for better public services and measures to clean up government corruption.
Ahmed Rushdi, head of the House of Iraq Expertise Foundation, said he tried to join the protests in Baghdad but was prevented from doing so by the army.
"This is not a political protest, but a protest by the people of Iraq. We want social reform, jobs for young people and direct supervision because there is lots of corruption," Rushdi told Al Jazeera.
Tens of thousands of Yemenis held demonstrations in the capital on Friday, with opponents of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and loyalists protesting just two miles apart from one another, Reuters reported.
Outside Sanaa University, where earlier this week pro-government elements opened fire on 3,000 Yemenis calling for an end to Saleh’s 32-year rule, killing two, anti-government protesters chanted: "The people demand the downfall of the regime."
Across town, loyalists shouted support for a leader they said was holding the fractured and impoverished tribal nation together. "The creator of unity is in our hearts. We will not abandon him," they chanted.
Hundreds of tribesmen from areas surrounding Sanaa have arrived at Sanaa University to join in the call for Saleh to relinquish power, reports Jeb Boone for GlobalPost. One tribesman from Arhab promised that hundreds more from his village would arrive soon.
Many tribal leaders in the country's unsettled north have pledged loyalty to Hamid al-Ahmar, a leading member of Yemen’s Islamist political party, risking a dangerous split in loyalties between Ahmar and Saleh, whose father is a member of the northern confederation of tribes.
A revolution in northern Yemen could descend into a civil war split between factions loyal to Saleh and the other loyal to al-Ahmer, writes Boone.
Thousands protested in Amman in what many said was the largest of eight consecutive Friday demonstrations in the Jordanian capital, reports GlobalPost contributor Heather Murdock.
Protesters demanded parliamentary and government elections and denounced the prime minister, recently appointed by King Abdullah II.
They were joined by thousands of police officers, who passed out juice boxes and water bottles.
Jordan's leading opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, led the protests, joined by youth groups, smaller political parties and independent activists.
Locals say soaring prices for goods and services, low wages and government corruption continues to drive the unrest, and new groups are traveling to Amman each time to join the demonstrations.
Many planned to camp out on the streets overnight, and said they would not leave until they were guaranteed that their demands would be met.