The size of the rally and the resilience of protesters in the face of the violence used by security forces in this week's deadly street battles have won back for the movement much of the strength it projected during the 18-day uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February.
Showing the sort of resolve from the earliest days of the Arab Spring, the protesters say they will not leave the iconic square until the military rulers led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi step down and a civilian presidential council is formed to run the country until a new leader is elected.
"They stole our January revolution because we did not agree on who should represent us," said activist Sedeeqah Abu Seadah. "We shouted 'erhal' [leave] but did not shout the name of the person we want."
The military's appointment of Ganzouri, its apology for the death of protesters, and a series of partial concessions suggest that the generals are struggling to overcome the most serious challenge to their nine-month rule, with fewer options now available to them.
Significantly adding to their predicament, the Obama administration brought its position closer to the protesters' demands, urging the military to fully empower the next interim civilian government.
"We believe that Egypt's transition to democracy must continue, with elections proceeding expeditiously, and all necessary measures taken to ensure security and prevent intimidation," the White House said in a statement.
"Most importantly, we believe that the full transfer of power to a civilian government must take place in a just and inclusive manner that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people, as soon as possible," it said.
The adjustment in the Obama administration's approach is significant because the Egyptian military, the nation's most powerful institution, has forged close relations with successive U.S. administrations, receiving $1.3 billion annually in aid. It followed the public U.S. endorsement of the military's original timetable for the transfer of power by late 2012 or early 2013.
The choice of Ganzouri, who was prime minister under Mubarak between 1996 and 1999, deepened the anger of the protesters, already seething over the military's perceived reluctance to dismantle the legacy of the ousted president's 29-year rule.
Hundreds of protesters moved from Tahrir Square and began a sit-in outside the headquarters of the cabinet, a few blocks away, vowing to prevent Ganzouri from entering. "The military council must go," the crowd chanted, "Military men must not rule."
The protest movement launched an attempt to unify its demands and present an alternative to Ganzouri. Twenty-four protest groups, including two political parties, announced they were creating their own "national salvation" government. They said it would be headed by a presidential council led by Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei with deputies from across the political spectrum to which they demanded the military cede power.
"Ganzouri is over and done with. We want young people to take charge of the country," said Hamdi Arban, a 50-year-old lawyer in Tahrir Square. "We will stay here and we won't get our rights except from here," he said.
Basma el-Husseini, who directs a cultural center and was also in Tahrir, dismissed the 78-year-old Ganzouri as a man with little energy to keep up with the multitude of challenges facing Egypt. "They [the generals] don't get the power of the people. All they are doing now is play for time to make people fed up."
Addressing a televised news conference, Ganzouri said the military had given him greater powers than his predecessor, Essam Sharaf, who was installed by the military months ago and has been criticized as a mere facade for the generals.
Ganzouri insisted he would not have accepted the job if he believed Tantawi had any intention of staying in power.
"The powers given to me exceed any similar mandates," he said. "I will take full authority so I'm able to serve my country."
But Ganzouri appeared uncomfortable, grasping for words and repeatedly pausing as he spoke, giving rambling answers when pressed whether he could form a government that will satisfy the public when many prominent figures have shunned joining the new administration.
French Journalist Assaulted
A French TV journalist said Friday that she was punched and roughed up, then sexually assaulted while covering protests in Egypt's Tahrir Square, the second attack reported in a single day on women journalists working there.
Caroline Sinz told France 3 television, her employer, that she and her cameraman were set upon by young men in the square then separated Thursday. She said she was punched, then "subjected to a sexual aggression in front of everyone in full daylight."
Providing more detail in an interview with RMC radio, she said boys 14 to 16 years old "tore off my clothes and undergarments" and assaulted her.
Mona Eltahawy, a prominent Egyptian-born U.S. columnist, said she was sexually assaulted, beaten, and blindfolded Thursday near the square - by local police. She said the police then dragged her to the nearby Interior Ministry by her hair and detained her there for 12 hours.
Eltahawy, based in New York, is a women's-rights defender, a lecturer on the role of social media in the Arab world, and a former Reuters journalist.
In February, Lara Logan, a U.S. correspondent for CBS television, was sexually assaulted by a frenzied mob in Tahrir Square.
The media watchdog Reporters Without Borders advised media outlets Thursday night that "there is no other solution" but to hold off on sending female journalists to Egypt.
But when that advice was criticized in France on Friday, the Paris-based organization toned down its warning, urging media outlets to show "great care with the safety of the reporters they send."
- Associated Press