In Yemen on Friday, a sea of hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters swelled along a five-lane boulevard reaching across the capital of San‘a in the largest of two months of demonstrations, as the government tried to halt military defections by arresting dozens of officers. The defections have chipped away at a critical line of defense for President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who calls his opponents “renegades” and “cowards.”
Two people were killed in new protests across the country, including a 15-year-old boy shot in the eye and a soldier killed in clashes with demonstrators and armed tribesmen.
In Egypt, tens of thousands of Egyptians led by hard-line Islamists escalated their protests against the appointment of a Coptic Christian governor in southern Egypt, deepening mistrust between religious communities during the bumpy aftermath of Egypt’s revolution.
Friday’s demonstrations were the largest in a week of protests against the newly appointed Qena governor, Emad Mikhail, and coincided with Good Friday services for most of Egypt’s estimated 10 million Christians.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s general prosecutor extended the detention of ousted President Hosni Mubarak for a second 15-day period to allow questioning to continue over the killings of protesters.
In southern Oman, witnesses said protesters calling for investigations into state corruption staged a march in a sign that high-level concessions have failed to quell demands for reforms. The rally in Salalah, about 500 miles southwest of the capital, Muscat, included calls to investigate state officials for alleged financial abuses in the Arabian peninsula nation.