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4 February 2011
The spokesman for Al-Azhar University, the largest religious institution in the Sunni Muslim world, resigned from his post and joined protesters demanding the departure of President Hosni Mubarak in Tahrir Square. Muhammad Rifaa al-Tahtawi said the Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh is a wise, patriotic man, but he (Tahtawi) resigned because he is supposed to be representing Al-Azhar and his positions do not reflect Al-Azhar’s situation. Tahtawi said to Al-Masry Al-Youm in a statement that he joined protesters to support them and that he will not leave Tahrir Square till their demands are achieved. He stressed that Islam forbids all forms of injustice. He called for penalizing all those involved in acts of bullying against protesters in Tahrir. He said that Mubarak leaving the country would only be the beginning of resolving the crisis. He said that confrontations will continue until Mubarak leaves. Tahtawy called for establishing a civil state where people are allowed to select their representatives in an efficient manner. He added that protesters can’t believe promises that might not be achieved.
4 February 2011
Thousands of Egyptians are gathering again in Cairo to stage a “day of departure” for President Hosni Mubarak. There is an increased army presence in Tahrir Square, after days of unrest that has led to hundreds of casualties. The defence minister has joined the armed forces there but the atmosphere is said to be relaxed. Mr Mubarak has said he is “fed up” with being in power but is resisting mounting pressure to resign as he says it would leave Egypt in chaos. In his first interview since anti-government protests began, he told ABC News he would like to resign immediately. But he repeated that the country’s Islamist opposition – the Muslim Brotherhood – would fill the power vacuum left by his absence.Protest organisers are demanding that he leave immediately. They have been angered further by the emergence in recent days of pro-Mubarak gangs – many suspected to be plain clothes police – who have attacked anti-government protesters.
The protesters say they want to put the “last nail in the regime’s coffin”. The main prayers were scheduled for noon local time (1000GMT). The BBC’s Jim Muir in Tahrir Square says the much stronger army presence has been securing the perimeter, but on good terms with the protesters. Thorough checks for weapons are being carried out. Defence Minister Gen Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and other military leaders joined the armed forces in the square on Friday. Correspondents also say that there are many more tanks and soldiers out on the streets of second city Alexandria than before. On Friday, the general secretary of the ruling NDP, Ibrahim Kamel, accused the West of betraying Egypt. He vowed that President Mubarak would not step down and that soon millions of Egyptians – “the silent majority” – would come out on to the streets to protest because “enough is enough”.
Egypt’s health ministry says eight people have been killed and more than 800 injured in the clashes, but the UN estimates that more than 300 people have died since the unrest broke out on 25 January, with about 4,000 hurt. Egypt’s Vice-President Omar Suleiman has appealed for calm and urged the protesters to accept Mr Mubarak’s pledge that he will not stand for election again.But it has now emerged that the White House has been in talks with Mr Suleiman about how Egypt can begin making a “meaningful transition” to a democratic government that addresses the aspirations of the Egyptian people. US Vice-President Joe Biden spoke to his Egyptian counterpart on Thursday, say diplomats, a day after Mr Suleiman had similar talks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The New York Times suggested that among the proposals was a plan for Mr Mubarak to resign immediately and hand power to a military-backed interim government under Mr Suleiman.
Neither the White House nor the state department have directly denied the report. But a spokesman for the President Barack Obama’s National Security Council said it was “time to begin a peaceful, orderly and meaningful transition, with credible, inclusive negotiations”. The BBC’s Mark Mardell in Washington says other reports suggest the US plan has already been rebuffed in Egypt, and that the administration has been surprised by the attitude of the military and Mr Suleiman. The reports say officials believe Mr Suleiman was aware of the apparent campaign in recent days to intimidate the opposition, and are now wondering whether he is the right man to lead an interim government, says our correspondent. The crisis in Egypt has intensified in recent days as supporters of Mr Mubarak have begun attacking protesters in the capital. Stones were thrown on both sides, and there were reports of gunfire, while footage has emerged of vehicles being driven at speed through crowds of protesters.
Foreign journalists reporting for several organisations have been attacked, with Mubarak supporters storming a number of Cairo hotels. A number of political activists have been arrested by military police, as were representatives of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The violence has drawn condemnation from Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, as well as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. On Friday, UK Prime Minister David Cameron criticised the Egyptian government for its handling of the crisis. “The steps taken so far haven’t met the aspirations of the Egyptian people,” he said. In his interview with ABC News, Mr Mubarak denied that his administration was behind the violence of the last two days but said it had troubled him. Mr Mubarak was speaking in the presidential palace, with his son Gamal at his side. “I never intended to run [for president] again,” Mr Mubarak said. “I never intended Gamal to be president after me.”
The pro-Mubarak element seems to have disappeared at least for the moment and the army has a cordon between the two sides. It is holding a ring and letting people in. The numbers are building up and of course people here are expecting a big day.
There was a false alarm a short while ago. When they think they are coming under attack they bang on railings with metal bars to attract attention and the lads start running to that spot. But the sense of imminent attack has now eased. They do feel this is coming to a climax and I think they’re feeling the shift within the Egyptian ruling leadership.
Most people here do have confidence in the army as a kind of neutral institution. I believe there is a struggle going on between elements loyal to the regime, perhaps loyal to the previous interior minister who was fired and who has now had his assets frozen and is not allowed to leave the country.
4 February 2011
Dozens of foreign journalists were arrested, attacked and beaten yesterday as the Egyptian government and its supporters embarked on what the US state department called a concerted campaign to intimidate the international media. Human rights workers also fell victim to crowd violence, while police raided the offices of two groups in Cairo, the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre and the Centre for Economic and Social Rights, and arrested observers. Amnesty International said one of its staff was detained at the law centre, with a Human Rights Watch colleague. A group of reporters from Daily News Egypt, an independent, English-language paper, were among those targeted. They were set upon by a group of passers-by in Dokki, west of the Nile, that quickly swelled into a 50-strong crowd after they ventured out of their offices to investigate a story about rising petrol prices.
“It was terrifying,” said Amira Ahmed, the publication’s business editor. “They were chanting: ‘We’ve found the foreigners, don’t let them go,’ and calling us traitors and spies. When I pointed out to them that I was Egyptian, they responded: ‘Your Egypt isn’t the same as ours.’ Like many who were caught up in similar incidents today, Ahmed said the most chilling part of the encounter was the mob mentality that took hold. “We had one French journalist with us who we managed to put in a taxi and get to safety. But the people who were showing up had no idea why we were the targets. They just took up the cry of ‘foreigners’ and ‘journalists’ and joined in. There was no leader we could appeal to for reason.” Ahmed and her companions agreed to be handed over to the army to avoid provoking any more violence. On the way, they were followed by men on motorbikes and one youth who clung to the trunk of their cab. The army took custody of them and released them without harm. “I’ve never felt unsafe in Egypt before. I always felt that if anything ever happened to me on the street here, other Egyptians would come in to protect me,” said Ahmed.
“But today was different and it was horrible. There was no logic to any of it; people are divided and people are raging, and they’re casting out for targets to direct that rage against.” The Egyptian interior ministry arrested more than 20 foreign journalists in Cairo, including the Washington Post’s bureau chief and a photographer. Al-Jazeera said three of its journalists were detained. In Egypt’s second city, Alexandria, locals said Egypt’s national television channel had warned viewers to beware of Israeli agents masquerading as journalists and seeking to damage the country’s image and national interest. On the streets, it was impossible to interview protesters without a crowd gathering, shouting accusations and jabbing fingers. One western TV crew was threatened in a residential area away from the scene of protests, with angry residents beating the roof of their car and refusing to allow the team to enter an apartment building. Egyptians acting as fixers to western journalists were also accused of being Zionists.
A hotel in central Alexandria being used as a base by reporters has been threatened at least twice in the past week by angry protesters. Journalists were warned against filming or taking photographs from hotel balconies of protests below. The antipathy to the media appeared to extend to both opponents and supporters of the regime. The US state department spokesman PJ Crowley wrote on Twitter: “There is a campaign to intimidate international journalists in Cairo and interfere with their reporting. We condemn such actions.” A little later, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs described the “systematic targeting” of journalists in Egypt as unacceptable, and called for those detained to be freed. The leaders of France, Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain said in a joint statement that the “attacks against journalists are completely unacceptable”. Foreign photographers witnessed a string of attacks by supporters of Mubarak near Tahrir Square, the scene of battles between the president’s backers and protesters demanding he step down after nearly 30 years in power. The Greek daily newspaper Kathimerini said its correspondent in the city was treated in hospital for a stab wound to the leg. An Associated Press reporter saw eight foreign journalists detained by the military near the prime minister’s office. Turkey’s state broadcaster, TRT, said its Egypt correspondent was beaten by a group of around 15 pro-Mubarak demonstrators with batons and lost a tooth in the attack.
His camera, money and mobile phone were stolen. Three other Turkish journalists were also stopped and roughed up near Tahrir Square, TRT said. There were also reported assaults on journalists for CNN, CBS, the BBC, Danish TV2 News, Swiss television and Belgium’s Le Soir newspaper, among other organisations. The Egyptian government has accused media outlets of being sympathetic to protesters who want Mubarak to resign now rather than complete his term. On Wednesday, government spokesman Magdy Rady described allegations of state involvement in clashes and attacks on reporters as a “fiction,” adding that the government welcomed objective coverage. “It would help our purpose to have it as transparent as possible. We need your help,” Rady said. However, he claimed that some in the media were not impartial and were “taking sides against Egypt.”Egyptian authorities shut al-Jazeera’s office on Sunday, complaining that its round-the-clock coverage was slanted toward protesters and could encourage more unrest.
Egypt: Mubarak starts the Crack Down on Journalists and Human Rights Groups
4 February 2011
International journalists covering events in Egypt this week have had a small but painful taste of “the dark side” – the secret security apparatus used by governments across the region, day in day out, to keep unpopular rulers in power. The BBC, CNN and several Arab media organisations have all been experiencing harassment, crude and at times violent, by plain clothes “thugs” supporting President Hosni Mubarak. On Wednesday the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes was handcuffed, hooded and interrogated, while another journalist, from Al-Arabiya TV, was beaten so badly by plain clothes men he had to be hospitalised. Local opposition figures would simply say: “Welcome to our world.”
Whether it is the official secret police of the State Security Institution (SSI), the intelligence agents of the Mukhabaraat, or just hired street thugs, these instruments of power have long been used to intimidating effect on those opposing the government or even speaking out about human rights abuses. Tom Porteous, UK Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), told the BBC: “State repression and abuse are coming out of the torture chambers and onto the streets”. In its just-published 2011 review of human rights around the world, HRW accuses Egypt’s secret police and uniformed police alike of routine, systematic torture of prisoners. “This is used both to extract confessions,” says Mr Porteous, “and as an instrument of punishment and deterrent”.
We’ve compiled a list of all the journalist who have been in some way threatened, attacked or detained while reporting in Egypt. When you put it all into one list, it is a rather large number in such a short period of time. (UPDATED – send us more stories if you get them)
APTN had their satellite dish agressively dismantled, leaving them and many other journalists who rely on their feed point no way to feed material.
ABC News international correspondent Christiane Amanpour said that on Wednesday her car was surrounded by men banging on the sides and windows, and a rock was thrown through the windshield, shattering glass on the occupants. They escaped without injury
And ABC Producer and Cameraman driving were carjacked at a checkpoint and driven to a compound where they were surrounded by men who threatened to behead them. They were able to convince the men to release them without any harm.
ABC/Bloomberg’s Lara Setrakian also attacked by protesters
CNN’s Anderson Cooper said he, a producer and camera operator were set upon by people who began punching them and trying to break their camera/ (wires)
Another CNN reporter, Hala Gorani, said she was shoved against a fence when demonstrators rode in on horses and camels, and feared she was going to get trampled/ (wires)
Fox Business Channel’s Ashley Webster reported that security officials burst into a room where he and a camera operator were observing the demonstration from a balcony. They forced the camera inside the room. He called the situation “very unnerving” and said via Twitter that he was trying to lay low / (wires)
Fox News Channel foreign correspondent Greg Palkot and producer Olaf Wiig were hospitalized in Cairo after being attacked by protestors.
CBS News’ Katie Couric harassed by protesters (link)
CBS newsman Mark Strassman said he and a camera operator were attacked as they attempted to get close to the rock-throwing and take pictures. The camera operator, who he would not name, was punched repeatedly and hit in the face with Mace. / (wires)
CBS News’ Lara Logan reports she was marched back to her hotel at gunpoint when she and a crew were taking pictures of protests (link) Time Magainze reports that Lara Logan has been detained by Egyptian police. (link)
Washington Post foreign editor Douglas Jehl wrote Thursday that witnesses say Leila Fadel, the paper’s Cairo bureau chief, and photographer Linda Davidson “were among two dozen journalists arrested this morning by Military Police.” Fadel and Davidson have since been released. / (link)
BBC’s Jerome Boehm also targeted by protesters / (link)
BBC also reported their correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes’ car was forced off the road in Cairo “by a group of angry men.” He has detained by the men, who handed him off to secret police agents who handcuffed and blindfolded him and an unnamed colleague and took them to an interrogation room. They were released after three hours. / (link)
Reporter Jean-Francois Lepine of Canada’s CBC all-French RDI network said that he and a cameraman were surrounded by a mob that began hitting them, until they were rescued by the Egyptian army / (wires)
The Toronto Globe and Mail said on its website that one of its reporters, Sonia Verma, said the military had “commandeered us and our car” in Cairo/ (link)
Two Associated Press correspondents were also roughed up. AP’s Nasser Gamil mentioned in one article (unclear if he was one of the original 2 mentioned) / wires and (link)
The website of Belgium’s Le Soir newspaper said Belgian reporter Serge Dumont, whose real name is Maurice Sarfatti, was beaten Wednesday / (wires)
Jon Bjorgvinsson, a correspondent for RUV, Iceland’s national broadcaster, but on assignment for Swiss television in Cairo, was attacked on Tuesday as he and a crew were filming/ (link)
Danish media reported that Danish senior Middle East Correspondent Steffen Jensen was beaten today by pro-Mubarak supporters with clubs while reporting live on the phone to Danish TV2 News from Cairo / (link)
Two Swedish reporters (from Aftonbladet tabloid) / (link)
epa photojournalist; German ZDF; German ARD / (link)
A reporter for Turkey’s Fox TV, his Egyptian cameraman and their driver were abducted by men with knives while filming protests Wednesday, but Egyptian police later rescued them, said Anatolia, a Turkish news agency / (link)
Turkey’s state broadcaster TRT, said its Egypt correspondent, Metin Turan, was beaten / (link)
One Greek print journalist was stabbed in the leg with a screwdriver / (wires)
*note: unclear if this is the same person identified in another: The injured Greek journalist, Petros Papaconstantinou, said on Kathimerini’s website that: “I was spotted by Mubarak supporters. They … beat me with batons on the head and stabbed me lightly in the leg.
A Greek freelance photographer punched in the face by a group of men who stopped him on the street near Tahrir Square and smashed some of his equipment / (wires)
In addition, five Chinese journalists were briefly detained after authorities found bullet proof vests in their luggage, along with more than 20 walkie-talkies and satellite phones, the officials said. They were allowed to leave after the equipment was confiscated. / (wires)
RT TV crew injured (link)
A correspondent and a cameraman working for Russia’s Zvezda television channel were detained by men in plainclothes and held overnight Tuesday, Anastasiya Popova of Vesti state television and radio said on air from Cairo / (link)
French international news channel France 24 said three of its journalists had been detained while covering protests in Egypt and were being held by “military intelligence services”. (link)
French photojournalist from SIPA Press agency Alfred Yaghobzadeh is being treated by anti-government protestors after being wounded during clashes between pro-government supporters and anti-government protestors / (link)
al Arabiya’s Ahmed Abdullah (and station was stormed) / (link)
ALSO – Al-Arabiya correspondent, Ahmed Bajano, in Cairo, was beaten while covering a pro-Mubarak demonstration. Another unidentified correspondent was also attacked. Another network reporter said on the air that her colleague Ahmad Abdel Hadi was seized by what appeared to be pro-Mubarak supporters near Tahrir Square, forced in a car, and driven away. / (link)
Men in plainclothes surrounded the office of Sawsan Abu Hussein, deputy editor of the Egyptian magazine October after she called in to a television program to report on violence against protesters (link)
A group of men described as “plainclothes police” attacked the headquarters of the independent daily Al-Shorouk in Cairo today, the paper reported. Reporter Mohamed Khayal and photographer Magdi Ibrahim were injured/ (link)
- Compiled by ABC’s Erin McGlaughlin and Joanna Suarez
3 February 2011
Two Amnesty International representatives have been detained by police in Cairo after the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre was taken over by military police this morning. The Amnesty International staff members were taken, along with Ahmed Seif Al Islam, Khaled Ali, a delegate from Human Rights Watch and others, to an unknown location in Cairo. Amnesty International does not know their current whereabouts. “We call for the immediate and safe release of our colleagues and others with them who should be able to monitor the human rights situation in Egypt at this crucial time without fear of harassment or detention,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
Supporters of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak attacked pro-democracy protesters and targeted journalists in Cairo on Wednesday. The Cutline reported yesterday on pro-Mubarak mobs going after journalists from CNN, CBS, ABC and numerous international news outlets. The media crackdown seems to be accelerating today. So far, there have been several reports on Twitter indicating that pro-Mubarak mobs have attacked journalists and bloggers—and that some journalists have also been arrested by Mubarak’s much-feared police force. But it’s not only the police arresting members of the media. The AP reports that the Egyptian military is rounding up journalists, with correspondent Hadeel Al-Shalchi tweeting that two New York Times journalists have been arrested. (A Times spokeswoman said that the two journalists were “detained by military police overnight in Cairo and are now free.” ) Also, Washington Post foreign editor Douglas Jehl wrote today that witnesses say Leila Fadel, the paper’s Cairo bureau chief, and photographer Linda Davidson “were among two dozen journalists arrested this morning by the Egyptian Interior Ministry.” (They were later released).
The AP reported today that Mubarak supporters stabbed a Greek journalist with a screwdriver and punched a freelance photographer. Also, Al Jazeera reported today that two of its reporters were attacked en route to Cairo airport, along with cameraman being assaulted near Tahrir Square. “There is a concerted campaign to intimidate international journalists in Cairo and interfere with their reporting,” State Dept. spokesman Philip Crowley wrote on Twitter. “We condemn such actions.” The White House has also condemned attacks against journalists. “The administration strongly condemns the violence today and strongly condemns violence against journalists in Egypt,” press secretary Robert Gibbs told The Cutline Wednesday. CNN’s Anderson Cooper described “pandemonium” Wednesday as his crew was attacked. Reuters’ Simon Hanna tweeted today that a “gang of thugs” stormed the news organization’s Cairo office and being smashing windows. Also, Hanna wrote that “two army men came into the building with guns, kicked out the thugs but were shouting and swearing at us.” Both Committee to Protect Journalists and ABC News each have running lists of journalists attacked: here and here.
There have been several reports over Twitter that Mubarak’s police have arrested “Sandmonkey,” a prominent Egyptian blogger and critic of the regime. Just yesterday, he spoke to Pajamas Media TV about evading police officials who were apparently looking for him. (Later, Sandmonkey wrote on Twitter: I am ok. I got out. I was ambushed & beaten by the police, my phone confiscated , my car ripped apar& supplies taken #jan25). Mubarak’s authoritarian regime has long repressed the media and his police forces attacked journalists during last Friday’s major demonstration. The Egyptian government also shut down Al Jazeera’s Cairo bureau Sunday, following the network’s exhaustive coverage since the uprising began. On Monday, The Cutline spoke with Amanpour, Cooper and other journalists in Egypt. At the time, they had been covering largely peaceful demonstrations staged by pro-democracy protesters. But now, with pro-Mubarak protesters on the streets, journalists aren’t safe. Richard Engel, the chief foreign correspondent for NBC News, wrote the following on Twitter today: “Journalists, now targets, disliked by mubarak supporters, forced to play cat-mouse game, broadcasting, moving, staying low profile.”
LONDON – Egyptian authorities forced Vodafone to broadcast pro-government text messages during the protests that have rocked the country, the U.K.-based mobile company said Thursday. Micro-blogging site Twitter has been buzzing with screen grabs from Vodafone’s Egyptian customers showing text messages sent over the course of the demonstrations against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year-old regime. A text message received Sunday by an Associated Press reporter in Egypt appealed to the country’s “honest and loyal men to confront the traitors and criminals and protect our people and honor.” Another urged Egyptians to attend a pro-Mubarak rally in Cairo on Wednesday. The first was marked as coming from “Vodafone.”
The other was signed: “Egypt Lovers.” In a statement, Vodafone Group PLC said that the messages had been drafted by Egyptian authorities and that it had no power to change them. “Vodafone Group has protested to the authorities that the current situation regarding these messages is unacceptable,” the statement said. “We have made clear that all messages should be transparent and clearly attributable to the originator.” The company also said its competitors — including Egypt’s Mobinil and the United Arab Emirates’ Etisalat — were doing the same. Etisalat, known formally as Emirates Telecommunications Corp., declined comment. Vodafone said the texts had been sent “since the start of the protests,” which kicked off more than a week ago. Vodafone did not immediately return an e-mail asking why the company waited nearly 10 days to complain publicly. Its statement was released only after repeated inquiries by the AP.
Vodafone complains after Egyptian government forced it to broadcast pro-Mubarak text messages during riots
Vodafone says the Egyptian authorities forced it to broadcast pro-government text messages during the protests that have rocked the country. It called the practice ‘unacceptable’ and confirmed protests had been made to the government. Twitter has been buzzing with screen grabs from Vodafone’s Egyptian customers showing pro-government text messages sent to them in the run-up to the violent clashes in central Cairo which broke out on Wednesday. Vodafone Group said in a statement today that Egyptian authorities have been using the country’s emergency laws to script text messages to its customers.
The UK-based company said it had no ability to change the content of the messages. Vodafone’s statement came as violent scenes erupted in Cairo again today as hired thugs and secret police loyal to the beleaguered President Hosni Mubarak continued to clash with protesters calling for regime change. It is believed as many as 300 people have died during the regime change protests. ‘Vodafone Group has protested to the authorities that the current situation regarding these messages is unacceptable,’ the statement said. ‘We have made clear that all messages should be transparent and clearly attributable to the originator.’
The company noted in its statement that the Egyptian government also has the power to compel other mobile operators, including Egypt’s Mobinil and Etisalat, to send pre-scripted text messages. It was not clear whether those companies were also involved. Vodafone did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the exact nature of the government messages, although Twitter users described them as carrying patriotic messages as well as attacks on ‘traitors’. A text message received on Sunday by an Associated Press reporter in Egypt appealed to the country’s ‘honest and loyal men to confront the traitors and criminals and protect our people and honour’. The sender is identified only as ‘Vodafone’.
Mobile phone firm Vodafone has accused the Egyptian authorities of using its network to send unattributed text messages supporting the government. Vodafone was told to switch off services last week when protests against President Hosni Mubarak began. But the authorities then ordered Vodafone to switch the network back on, in order to send messages under Egypt’s emergency laws, the firm said. In a statement, Vodafone described the messages as “unacceptable”. “These messages are not scripted by any of the mobile network operators and we do not have the ability to respond to the authorities on their content.” The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says that the government clampdown on internet services may have cost the Egyptian economy as much as $18m (£11m) a day or $90m in total. The impact of the communications block could be even greater, as it would be “much more difficult in the future to attract foreign companies and assure them that the networks will remain reliable”, said the OECD in a statement. In another development, the credit ratings agency Fitch has downgraded the Egypt’s debt grade by one notch to BB from BB+, citing the consequences of the continuing political unrest on the economy. The country’s debt grade has already been downgraded by two other ratings agencies, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s.
Egypt:Interviews from “Zero Silence” Documentary
A documentary film about young people in the Middle East who have grown angry over the authoritarian regimes they live in and who are using the Internet to bring about change in their societies where free speech is controlled or censored. They are part of a new generation that uses the Internet to get the free word out and to organize, mobilize, collaborate and fight injustice. Among other topics, the production will explore the impact of the Internet and non-traditional media such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter and whistle-blowing sites on the Arab world and beyond and to what extent these digital media tools can spur society change.
The Arab world is currently experiencing a wave of unprecedented popular uprisings and street demonstrations against corruption, lack of freedoms, and unemployment. Many of the demonstrators out in the streets are young people and several recent protests have been coordinated on social media sites. We think the Internet is playing an important role in the events that are currently unfolding in the region and that it is partly thanks to social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, that street demonstrations have become widespread in Tunisia, Algeria, and Egypt to name a few countries.
However, while these digital media tools have helped trigger a domino effect of similar demonstrations throughout the Arab world we believe that it is the power of the young people that will bring about change. The characters in our film show that courage is contagious and that silence is not an option. This is not a film about social media networks but about the revolt of a young generation for whom silence is no longer an option.
Demonstrators at Tahrir Square come under attack by Mubarak’s Thugs killing 2 Demonstrators
“Talked with several soldiers manning barricades around Tahrir. Said they have orders not to allow more pro-Mubarak people near the square.”
03:52 GMT, Thursday, 3 February 2011
Amid the violence on the streets of Cairo one pro-Mubarak demonstrator holds aloft a hand made sign reading “Shut up Obama”. But the disorder on the streets has only sharpened the Obama’s administration appetite for a confrontation. ABC says Obama is “very concerned” that President Hosni Mubarak is delaying. The Wall Street Journal says the White House has a new plan for a speedy transfer of power. The New York Times says the CIA is war-gaming how that will play in the region. However you put it, it amounts to one thing. The White House, as much as the pro-democracy protesters, is demanding “Mubarak must go”. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has telephoned the new vice-president and intelligence chief of two decades, Omar Suleiman, to tell him immediately to seize the opportunity for a transition to a more democratic society. That transition must start now. She said that the violence was shocking and told him that they must investigate the violence and hold those responsible accountable.
You might have thought that after all their initial pussyfooting caution, the bloodshed might have given the Obama administration second thoughts about whether it was wise to back the protesters and scorn Mubarak’s promise to go in September. Not a bit of it. If anything it has emboldened it to be more open about its wishes and made it more determined to winkle him out. Others have joined the fray. Shortly after a very rare meeting with the US president, former Republican presidential candidate John McCain issued a statement: “The rapidly deteriorating situation in Egypt leads me to the conclusion that President Mubarak needs to step down and relinquish power. It is clear that the only institution in Egypt that can restore order is the army, but I fear that for it to do so on behalf of a government led by or involving President Mubarak would only escalate the violence and compromise the army’s legitimacy.”
A Western diplomat tells me that their best intelligence suggests that secret police were among those causing the violence and that it was almost certainly orchestrated by those very close to Mubarak. He saw it as a last desperate throw of the dice by a leader who is badly misreading the public mood. There are frantic conversations taking place between Washington and Cairo. We can’t know the details but surely the main players are being urged to action. What happens on the streets is very important. It colours the outcome and may decide it. But short of bloody revolution, only the army and those in Mubarak’s inner circle can force him to go.
Gunfire has rung out in the early hours of Thursday around Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where Egyptian anti-government protesters are camping out. At least two people are reported dead. On Wednesday three died in clashes with supporters of President Hosni Mubarak. Hundreds of people were wounded as rival groups fought pitched battles in and around Tahrir Square, in the worst violence in nine days of protests. The protesters are demanding President Mubarak’s resignation. He says he will serve out his current presidential term, his fifth, which ends in September. The unrest has left about 300 people dead across the country over more than a week, according to UN estimates. In a speech on Tuesday night Mr Mubarak – who has been in office for nearly 30 years – promised to leave at the next polls and pledged constitutional reform.
He said he would devote his remaining time in power to ensuring a peaceful transition. US President Barack Obama responded by saying an orderly transition “must begin now”. Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei dismissed Mr Mubarak’s move as “a trick” to stay in power, and Tahrir Square protesters have vowed to continue their demonstrations until Mr Mubarak quits. Abdelhalim Kandil, leader of Egypt’s Kifaya (Enough) opposition movement, said Mr Mubarak’s offer not to serve a sixth term was not enough. “I will tell you very simply that there is an unprecedented popular movement that rejects the presence of the president on a scope that has not been seen before, that is calling for the will of the people to be imposed,” he said. If Mr Mubarak does not step down, demonstrators have planned to march on the presidential palace. Meanwhile, internet services were returning to the country, having been cut off for days by the government.
Egypt’s pro-democracy revolution descended into violence and bloodshed overnight as President Hosni Mubarak’s regime launched a co-ordinated bid to wrest back control of city streets, crush the popular uprising, and reassert its authority. Bursts of heavy gunfire rained into Tahir square just before dawn today and there were reports that three more people had been killed. Protest organiser Mustafa el-Naggar said he saw the bodies of three dead protesters being carried toward an ambulance. He said the gunfire came from at least three locations off in the distance and that the Egyptian military, which has ringed the square with tank squads for days to try to keep some order, did not intervene. Another witness said as many as 15 people had been wounded in the fresh clashes. Clashes had continued into the early hours even though the pro-Mubarak supporters had been pushed back to the edge of the square and explosions – possibly from gas canisters – echoed around the area.
There were extraordinary scenes in the centre of Cairo as anti-government demonstrators fought running battles with organised cohorts of Mubarak supporters, exchanging blows with iron bars, sticks and rocks. At one point pro-Mubarak forces rode camels and horses into central Tahrir Square, scattering opponents. At least three people were killed yesterday and up to 1,500 injured according to medical sources. A palm tree and a building caught alight while fires were burning outside the historic Egyptian museum as petrol bombs were hurled back and forth between the two opposing factions. The violence was immediately condemned by David Cameron, the Obama administration, and Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, who condemned what he described as attacks on peaceful demonstrators. The White House warned that if any of the violence was instigated by the government it should stop immediately, and also strongly criticised the beating of local and foreign journalists, including a CNN reporter.
But after Mubarak’s announcement that he would not seek another term at elections due in September, the regime appeared to be in no mood to listen – and determined to regain control after a week of near anarchy. The strident tone was illustrated by a startling public rebuff to Barack Obama. Rejecting his overnight demand that the promised political transition and reforms begin without delay, the Egyptian foreign ministry said bluntly that meddling by “foreign parties” was unacceptable and was “aimed to incite the internal situation”. Guardian journalists in the square – close to both sides – witnessed pitched battles that turned the square into a warzone as anti-Mubarak protesters tried desperately to hold their ground and both sides tore up paving stones to use as weapons. Among those singled out for attack were journalists including Anderson Cooper of CNN and two Associated Press correspondents. A Belgian journalist – Maurice Sarfatti, who uses the byline Serge Dumont – was reportedly beaten, arrested and accused of spying.
Video of the Demonstrations before the Pro Mubarak attack
At one stage tanks attempted to move between the two groups but did little to stop the escalating clashes. In one incident soldiers moved out of the way to permit pro-Mubarak demonstrators to reach their opponents. By late afternoon, groups of men were on roofs in Champollion Street, a few hundred metres away, hurling missiles down on those beneath them. At just after six o’clock automatic weapons fire was heard. Some pro-Mubarak forces appeared to be plainclothes police, while others involved in the assault in Tahrir Square were said to have been paid by the regime. The interior ministry denied the reports, while the army denied firing on protesters. In other cities the regime fought back strongly. In Alexandria, Mubarak supporters staged a furious counterprotest in a square that has seen protests for nine days, sparking violent arguments and altercations between rival groups. The violence increased fears in western capitals that the crisis, far from being defused, was taking a more sinister turn. David Cameron said: “If it turns out that the regime in any way has been sponsoring or tolerating this violence, that would be completely and utterly unacceptable.”
Pro Mubarak thugs including Secret Police attacking peaceful demonstrators in Tahrir Square (Liberation Square)
Government ID which was removed from the Pro Mubarak “Protestors” (Secret Police)
Thousands of supporters of President Hosni Mubarak today attacked anti-government protesters as fresh turmoil gripped Egypt. Backers of the president, who last night agreed to relinquish his grip on power, fought with the crowds in Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square, injuring more than 600 people. Some rode into the ranks on horses and camels while wielding whips. In chaotic scenes, they pelted each other with stones, large sticks and machetes. The death toll since protests began eight days ago is now thought to be as high as 300, according to Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Reports to the world body from nongovernmental sources in Egypt also suggest that more than 3,000 people have been injured. Many of those who demonstrated in support of the regime today are believed to be secret police in plain clothes. There were reports that concrete blocks has been hurled on pro-democracy protesters. The army has stood by and refused to intervene so far. But there are growing fears that there will be a massacre. Opposition leader Mohamed ElBarawi said that Mr Mubarak was using ‘scare tactics’ to stay in power.
‘I’m extremely concerned. My fear is that it will turn into a bloodbath,’ he said. The White House said the U.S. was ‘deeply concerned’ about the attacks on media and peaceful demonstrators. The morning – the eighth day of protest – began peacefully enough with a fresh round of protests in Tahrir Square. But for the first time thousands of Mr Mubarak’s supporters descended on the massive public space, the scene of a yesterday’s 250,000 strong demonstration. Around 3,000 supporters of the 82-year-old leader were seen breaking through a human chain of anti-government protesters as they tried to defend the thousands gathered in the Square. Chaos erupted as they tore down banners denouncing the president and fistfights broke out as they advanced across the plaza. The two sides started hurling stones, bottles and sticks at each other and gave chase. At one point, some pro-Mubarak forces rushed in on horses and camels swinging whips and sticks. Protesters retaliated – dragging them from their horses and throwing them to the ground then beating them. People were seen running with their shirts and faces bloodied while some men and women in the crowd wept. Tear gas was believed to have been deployed, though it was not clear who had fired it. The demonstrations appeared to be the start of an attempt by Mr Mubarak’s three-million strong National Democratic Party to retake momentum from protesters demanding Egypt’s nearly 30-year ruler step down immediately. In a broadcast last night, he had promised to step down at elections in December. But his opponents say that this is simply not soon enough.
Egypt’s band of opposition parties, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, have begun to coalesce around the figure of Mohamed El Baradei, a Nobel Peace laureate for his work as head of the UN nuclear agency. Yesterday in Cairo, effigies of Mr Mubarak were hung from lamp-posts, as people screamed for him to quit, likening him to Hitler and a donkey. Khaled Osman, 40, a tourist guide from Aswan, said: ‘I am so happy that the old man has finally given up. But he must go now. And we will stay here campaigning until he goes. ‘The game is over, he knows that.’ Tourist guide Mohammed Al Gawad, 33, from Hurghada, said: ‘We have had enough of his brutality. We want to be free. ‘We want to decide our own destiny. And we want jobs. These are the things that Mubarak has not given us. He just stole our money.’ Cairo’s international airport was a scene of chaos as thousands of foreigners sought to flee the unrest, and countries around the world scrambled to send in planes to fly their citizens out. Some tourists even reported being forced to pay bribes to policemen before being permitted to board what planes did manage to take off. An estimated 18,000 were still stuck there yesterday, although many British citizens and other holidaymakers in Sharm el Sheikh and the Red Sea resorts are staying put. Even having a ticket was no guarantee that tourists could get on a flight, it has emerged.
‘People holding tickets had difficulties getting on the plane, because the airport in Cairo is pure chaos,’ Canadian tourist Tristin Hutton said Tuesday after his plane landed at Germany’s Frankfurt airport. ‘The terminals are full of panicking people. The ground staff is disappearing, and at the gate, just before entering, we all together had to collect $2,000 for a policeman at the door… He would not let us pass without paying. Internet service also began returning to Egypt after days of an unprecedented cutoff by the government, and state TV said authorities were easing a nighttime curfew, which now runs from 5pm to 7am instead of 3pm to 8am. The various protesters have little in common beyond the demand that Mubarak go. Perhaps the most significant tensions among them is between young secular activists and the Muslim Brotherhood, which wants to form an Islamist state in the Arab world’s largest nation. The more secular are deeply suspicious as the Brotherhood aims to co-opt what they contend is a spontaneous, popular movement. American officials have suggested they have similar fears. The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood remains Egypt’s largest opposition movement. In a nod to the suspicions, Brotherhood figures insist they are not seeking a leadership role. ‘We don’t want to harm this revolution,’ Mohamed Mahdi Akef, a former leader of the group.
In chaotic scenes, the two sides pelted each other with stones, and protesters dragged attackers off their horses. This is the first significant violence between supporters of the two camps in more than a week of anti-government protests. It erupted after President Mubarak went on national television on Tuesday night and rejected demands he step down immediately and said he would serve out the remaining seven months of his term. On Wednesday morning, a military spokesman appeared on state television and asked the protesters to disperse so life in Egypt could get back to normal. The announcement could mark a major turn in the attitude of the army, which for the past two days has allowed protests to swell, reaching their largest size yet on Tuesday when a quarter-million peace packed into Cairo’s central Tahrir Square. Nearly 10,000 protesters massed again in the square on Wednesday morning, rejecting President Mubarak’s speech as too little too late and renewed their demands he leave immediately. In the early afternoon, an Associated Press reporter saw around 3,000 Mubarak supporters break through a human chain of anti-government protesters trying to defend thousands gathered in Tahrir.
Chaos erupted as they tore down banners denouncing the president. Fist fights broke out as they advanced across the massive square in the heart of the capital. The anti-government protesters grabbed Mubarak posters from the hands of the supporters and ripped them. The two sides began hurling stones and bottles and sticks at each other, chasing each other as the protesters’ human chains moved back to try to shield the larger mass of demonstrators at the plaza’s centre. At one point, a small contingent of pro-Mubarak forces on horseback and camels rushed into the anti-Mubarak crowds, swinging whips and sticks to beat people.
Protesters retaliated, dragging some from their mounts, throwing them to the ground and beating their faces bloody. Protesters were seen running with their shirts or faces bloodied, some men and women in the crowd were weeping. A scent of tear gas wafted over the area, but it was not clear who had fired it. The army troops who have been guarding the square had been keeping the two sides apart earlier in the day, but when the clashes erupted they did not intervene. Most took shelter behind or inside the armoured vehicles and tanks stationed at the entrances to Tahrir.
Pro Mubarak Mob attack Pro Democracy demonstrators
Tony Blair says “there should not be a rush to elections in Egypt.”
Former UK Prime Minister who is well known for supporting an illegal war in Iraq has told the Guardian that he does not think Egypt should rush for Elections. The people of Egypt have been subjected to 30 years of brutal dictatorship under Mubarak where political opposition is banned and freedoms to speak and express yourself have been stiffled. Tony Blair also stated that the Western Governments should not feel “embarrassed” (shame) for supporting Mubarak even when those Governments have known for years that Mubarak operates a brutal Dictatorship under which the Police act directly as the arms, eyes and hears for Mubarak. Tony Blair also had this to say about Mubarak:
Tony Blair has described Hosni Mubarak, the beleaguered Egyptian leader, as “immensely courageous and a force for good” and warned against a rush to elections that could bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power. The former British prime minister, who is now an envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, praised Mubarak over his role in the negotiations and said the west was right to back him despite his authoritarian regime because he had maintained peace with Israel. But that view is likely to anger many Egyptians who believe they have had to endure decades of dictatorship because the US put Israel’s interests ahead of their freedom.
Speaking to Piers Morgan on CNN, Blair defended his backing for Mubarak. “Where you stand on him depends on whether you’ve worked with him from the outside or on the inside. I’ve worked with him on the Middle East peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians so this is somebody I’m constantly in contact with and working with and on that issue, I have to say, he’s been immensely courageous and a force for good,” he said. “Inside Egypt, and I have many Egyptian friends, it’s clear that there’s been a huge desire for change.”
But asked if the west had not been an obstacle to change, Blair defended the policies of his and other governments. “I don’t think the west should be the slightest bit embarrassed about the fact that it’s been working with Mubarak over the peace process but at the same time it’s been urging change in Egypt,” he said.
The Video which started a Revolution
Protesters reject Mubarak speech
Protesters have rejected a speech by President Hosni Mubarak in which he said he would not stand for re-election in September, demanding that he step down immediately. Mr Mubarak has promised to leave at the next polls, and pledged constitutional reform. Hundreds of thousands had gathered across the country in the biggest rally since protests began last week. US President Barack Obama said an orderly transition “must begin now”. In a statement after Mr Mubarak’s address, Mr Obama said the US would be happy to offer assistance to Egypt during that process. But opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei dismissed Mr Mubarak’s move as “a trick” to stay in power, and protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square have vowed to continue their demonstrations until Mr Mubarak quit.
After Mr Mubarak’s announcement, some in central Cairo chanted: “We will not leave! He will leave!” Abdelhalim Kandil, leader of Egypt’s Kifaya (Enough) opposition movement, said Mr Mubarak’s offer not to serve a sixth term was not enough. “I will tell you very simply that there is an unprecedented popular movement that rejects the presence of the president on a scope that has not been seen before, that is calling for the will of the people to be imposed,” he said. If Mr Mubarak does not step down, demonstrators are planning to march on the presidential palace.
“The crowd went quiet as the president’s speech was projected on a huge sheet hung up on the side of an apartment building in Tahrir Square. Quickly, though, exclamations of disbelief rang out. “What, he’s still not going to leave?” said one young demonstrator, with his hand to his brow. As the speech ended, further angry cries of “irhal – go!” erupted. Protesters had made the same simple demand throughout the day. “We feel rage. He totally ignored what we were asking for,” said one man, summing up the mood. “We must be careful,” added another, thinking of how democracy activists have been treated in the past. “If Mubarak stays in power until September, he will punish us. He will torture us”. Only a few people walking away from the square after a long day of protest thought they had won significant concessions. It remains to be seen how households across Egypt will react.”
Yolande Knell BBC News, Cairo
Mubarak refuses to step down saying “I will die on Egyptian soil”
February 2nd 2011 @ 03:33 GMT
Egyptian State TV has been showing images and video of Pro Mubarak protesters chanting Pro Mubarak slogans. State TV has carried out little to no reporting on Anti Mubarak Protestors which is to be expected when the TV station is owned by a Dictator. Egyptians are clearly not going to give up with the Revolution with another protest march organised for this coming Friday 4th with some calling it the “Day of Ousting”.
February 1st 2011 @ 22:20 GMT
Crowds of people have started chanting “Where are the army?” has they start to demand that the Military step in and remove Mubarak from power. Furthermore, Pro Mubarak protestors had started to enter “Liberation Square” where the majority of people against the Dictatorship where assembled. Some protestors attempted to stop the pro Mubarak group from entering before both groups clashed. The people believe that the Pro Mubarak group may be from the Police and Security forces.
February 1st 2011 @ 21:10 GMT
Mubarak has addressed the Egyptian people on State TV and is his second time in speaking with a nation which no longer wants him in power. In his speech to the nation Mubarak blamed the recent Revolution on Politics. This goes against the clear facts which show that economic problems along with a 30 year Dictatorship is what inflamed the people to revolt against this regime. Mubarak said in his speech that he would instruct both houses of the Parliament to meet up and draw up changes to the Egyptian Constitution which would place term limits on how long a President can stand for. Mubarak also stated that he would no stand for re-election and he expects to stay in power until the next election which takes place in months.
The Egyptian people reacted to Mubaraks speech by chanting “LEAVE” over and over shortly after his speech had ended. The people of Egypt feel that Mubaraks concessions on Democracy and Freedom come too little too late. The protests have since increased on the streets of Cairo and Alexandria since Mubarak made his speech. It strongly appears that the people of Egypt will not accept anything from Mubarak who they no longer see has their leader.
As Egypt’s extraordinary uprising edged into its second week, hundreds of thousands of people poured into Cairo’s giant Tahrir Square on Tuesday, in the biggest demonstration the country has seen in decades. Jammed into the huge open area, people waved the national flag and prayed on their knees long after dark, flaunting the nighttime curfew, as they chanted their demand for President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster with a single word: “Go!” But what will the protesters do now that it seems likely Mubarak will not “go” immediately?
By essentially stepping aside and not running for re-election in a vote that was originally scheduled for September, Mubarak may satisfy enough of a populace that has grown weary of lawlessness and shortages — enough to sap the street action of much of its power. Some political groups may even be happy if they are given Cabinet positions as part of an immediate sharing of power in a transition, further eroding opposition unity. Protesters say they — and Egypt — have been profoundly changed by the past week’s experience, and many vow to maintain their almost nonstop demonstrations until the President goes. Yet Tuesday’s street-filling crescendo may be impossible to re-create. “It is a fiasco if the situation just stays like this,” says the well-known Egyptian actor Aser Yasin, who joined Tuesday’s protest in the square. “We have already won. But it is not just about winning. It is about rising up again afterward.”
CAIRO — More than a quarter-million people flooded Cairo’s main square Tuesday in a stunning and jubilant array of young and old, urban poor and middle class professionals, mounting by far the largest protest yet in a week of unrelenting demands for President Hosni Mubarak to leave after nearly 30 years in power. According to The Guardian, one million protesters gathered at Tahrir Square. One Al Jazeera correspondent said two million attended the protests in the square and its surrounding areas. The crowds – determined but peaceful – filled Tahrir, or Liberation, Square and spilled into nearby streets, among them people defying a government transportation shutdown to make their way from rural provinces. Protesters jammed in shoulder-to-shoulder, with schoolteachers, farmers, unemployed university graduates, women in conservative headscarves and women in high heels, men in suits and working-class men in scuffed shoes. They sang nationalist songs, danced, beat drums and chanted the anti-Mubarak slogan “Leave! Leave! Leave!” as military helicopters buzzed overhead. Organizers said the aim was to intensify marches to get the president out of power by Friday, and similar demonstrations erupted in at least five other cities around Egypt.
Mubarak will not step down, but will not seek re-election, he announces on state television. He said it’s time to “ensure a peaceful transition of power” and that it’s time for “someone to be elected by the people in the coming election.”
BEIRUT — Syrians are organizing campaigns on Facebook and Twitter that call for a “day of rage” in Damascus this week, taking inspiration from Egypt and Tunisia in using social networking sites to rally their followers for sweeping political reforms. Like Egypt and Tunisia, Syria suffers from corruption, poverty and unemployment. All three nations have seen subsidy cuts on staples like bread and oil. Syria’s authoritarian president has resisted calls for political freedoms and jailed critics of his regime. The main Syrian protest page on Facebook is urging people to protest in Damascus on Feb. 4 and 5 for “a day of rage.” It says the goal is to “end the state of emergency in Syria and end corruption.”
The number of people who have joined Facebook and Twitter pages calling for protests on Friday and Saturday is still relatively small, and some are believed to live outside the country. President Bashar Assad said in an interview published Monday that his nation is immune from the kind of unrest roiling Tunisia and Egypt. He was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as acknowledging that the events signaled a “new era” in the Middle East. But he said Syria, which has gradually shed its socialist past in favor of the free market in recent years, was insulated from the upheaval because he understood his people’s needs and has united them in common cause against Israel. Social networking sites were integral to rallying protesters in Tunisia and Egypt. Facebook is banned in Syria, which makes organizing more difficult – even though many Syrians manage to access the social networking site anyway. More than 2,500 people have joined the page calling for protests on Feb. 4-5, with another 850 joining a page in favor of President Assad. Assad, a 45-year-old British-trained eye doctor, inherited power from his father, Hafez, in 2000, after three decades of authoritarian rule.
“Egypt braces for massive protest”
A massive demonstration is due to be held in Cairo as protesters step up their efforts to force President Hosni Mubarak from power. Organisers say they hope one million will come onto the streets in what is expected to be the biggest show yet. A rally is also planned in Alexandria. Egypt’s powerful army has vowed it will not use force against the protesters. Meanwhile, new Vice President Omar Suleiman says he will hold cross-party talks on constitutional reform. Mr Mubarak reshuffled his cabinet on Monday to try to head off the protests, replacing the widely despised Interior Minister Habib al-Adly. But correspondents say that the army’s statement has been a major blow for President Mubarak, and appears to have encouraged protesters. The feeling that change is coming in Egypt is getting stronger, says the BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen in Cairo. Too much has happened too quickly to go back to the way things were before, he says.
At least 100 people have been killed across the country since protests began a week ago following an internet campaign and partly inspired by the ousting of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia last month. Egypt has since cut off internet in the country and text messaging services have been disrupted. Google announced late on Monday that it was operating a special service to allow people in Egypt to send Twitter messages by dialling a phone number and leaving a voicemail. Some protesters defied the curfew and continued to camp out in Tahrir Square through the night, saying they would stay there until Mr Mubarak’s 30-year-long rule ends. One demonstrator, Tarek Shalabi, told the BBC that groups were camped out in tents or sleeping out in the square, and described the atmosphere as “overwhelming”.
Tahrir Square protesters say they plan to march Friday to the presidential palace in Heliopolis unless the army makes its stance clear. Youth-led groups issued a statement calling for all Egyptians to march on the palace, the People’s Assembly and the television building, in what they are calling the “Friday of Departure.” They say the army must choose which side they are on: That of the people, or the regime. “We the people and the youth of Egypt demand that our brothers in the national armed forces clearly define their stance by either lining up with the real legitimacy provided by millions of Egyptians on strike on the streets, or standing in the camp of the regime that has killed our people, terrorized them and stole from them,” read the statement.
The protesters say the army has until Thursday morning to make its position clear. A lack of response will be interpreted as support for Egypt’s ruling regime. The march will commence after Friday Muslim prayers and Christian services, according to the statement. Meanwhile, the liberal Democratic Front Party is expected to release a statement later on Monday calling on the military not to take part in cracking down on protesters. “We believe that the president is trying to involve the army in a confrontation with the people,” Ibrahim Nawar, official spokesman for the party, told Al-Masry Al-Youm. “In our statement we will remind the army that it is the shield of the people.” Nawar added that he expects military presence will be beefed up in Cairo and Giza to prevent large numbers of protesters from reaching Tahrir Square, which has become the central gathering area of tens of thousands of protesters for the last six days.
Egyptian Army welcomed
“Egypt protests leaves at least 18 dead” plus Videos of Egyptian Police attacking those they have arrested
Medical sources across Egypt late Friday evening and early Saturday reported that at least 18 people died in nationwide demonstrations aimed at ousting President Hosni Mubarak from power. It was the fourth day of continuing protests in Egypt, with reports of hundreds of thousands of citizens taking to the streets as fear of the government forces keeps diminishing.
The United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay said that over 1,000 people have been arrested and remain detained since protests began on January 25. She called on Cairo to end its attempts to silence opposition voices. The government does not appear willing to do that just yet, as Internet services in the country are shut down, mobile phone services are cut and access to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter remain inoperative.
Egyptian Police beating “suspects” at the Police Station
Egyptian Police Beatings
Curfew fails to stop Egypt protests – Jan 28
Thousands of protesters in the Egyptian cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Suez have defied a nighttime curfew and continued with demonstrations demanding an end to Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year presidency. Speaking on national television, the president said he had ordered the government to step down and that he would name a new government on Saturday. Military armoured vehicles rolled onto the streets of the capital on Friday night in a bid to quell the protests, but buildings have been set alight, and violent clashes continue after a day of unprecedented anger. A building belonging to the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) was torched, and reports of looting of numerous government buildings have also emerged.
Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Cairo, said that several police vehicles were also set ablaze, and firefighters did not appear to be on the streets. Before Mubarak’s announcement, Egypt’s parliamentary speaker said the president remained in control of the country despite chaos engulfing the capital and other cities. “Matters are in the safe hands of Hosni Mubarak and he will act and you will see these actions,” Fathy Surour said. Friday’s demonstrations involving tens of thousands of people were the biggest and bloodiest in four consecutive days of protests against Mubarak’s government. Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh, reporting from the port city of Alexandria, said that protesters there were also defying the curfew.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog and an opposition leader in Egypt, was briefly detained by police after he prayed at a mosque in the Giza area but he later took part in a march with supporters. The unrest in Egypt was triggered by the overthrow two weeks ago of Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in an uprising that has also inspired anti-government protests in Yemen and elsewhere. The government in Egypt had vowed to crack down on demonstrations and arrest those participating in them. It had blocked internet, mobile phone and SMS services in order to disrupt the planned demonstrations. Before internet access was shut down on Thursday night, activists were posting and exchanging messages using social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter, listing more than 30 mosques and churches where protesters were to organise on Friday. Ibrahim Yousri, the former head of international law at the Egyptian foreign ministry, told Al Jazeera that the government had been warned for many years to adopt reforms.
“This is effectively the beginning of the end of the regime. This government was warned to implement reforms, but they ignored calls over the years,” he said. “Most Egyptians also would not want a military government, but a temporary, or transitional government that is led by a civilian.” It is far from a foregone conclusion that the protesters will force Mubarak out. They face two key challenges, said Amon Aran, a Middle East expert at London’s City University, told Reuters news agency. “One is the Egyptian security apparatus, which over the years has developed a vested interest in the survival of President Mubarak’s regime. This elaborate apparatus has demonstrated over the past few days that it is determined to crush political dissent,” he said. “Another obstacle derives from the fact that, so far, the protesters do not seem to form a coherent political opposition. The popular outcry is loud and clear, but whether it can translate into a political force is questionable.”
US fully aware of Police Brutality in Egypt (Jan 15, 2009)
US Diplomatic Cable (WikiLeaks)
“Summary and comment: Police brutality in Egypt against common criminals is routine and pervasive. Contacts describe the police using force to extract confessions from criminals as a daily event, resulting from poor training and
understaffing. Brutality against Islamist detainees has reportedly decreased overall, but security forces still resort to torturing Muslim Brotherhood activists who are deemed to pose a political threat. Over the past five years,
the government has stopped denying that torture exists, and since late 2007 courts have sentenced approximately 15 police officers to prison terms for torture and killings. Independent NGOs have criticized GOE-led efforts to provide human rights training for the police as ineffective and
lacking political will. The GOE has not yet made a serious effort to transform the police from an instrument of regime power into a public service institution. We want to continue a USG-funded police training program (ref F), and to look for
other ways to help the GOE address police brutality. End summary and comment.”
Torture and police brutality in Egypt are endemic and widespread. The police use brutal methods mostly against common criminals to extract confessions, but also against demonstrators, certain political prisoners and unfortunate
bystanders. One human rights lawyer told us there is evidence of torture in Egypt dating back to the times of the Pharaohs. NGO contacts estimate there are literally hundreds
of torture incidents every day in Cairo police stations alone. Egyptians are bombarded with consistent news reports of police brutality, ranging from high profile incidents such
as accidental but lethal police shootings in Salamut and Aswan this past fall (refs B and C) that sparked riots, to reports of police officers shooting civilians following disputes over traffic tickets. In November 2008 alone, there
were two incidents of off-duty police officers shooting and killing civilians over petty disputes. The cases against both officers are currently making their way through the judicial system.
¶3. (C) NGO and academic contacts from across the political spectrum report witnessing police brutality as part of their daily lives. One academic at XXXXXXXXXXXX who is a member of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP)
policy committee told us of accompanying his sister to a Cairo police station to report her stolen purse. In front of this academic, the police proceeded to beat a female suspect
into confessing about others involved in the theft and the whereabouts of the stolen valuables. A contact from an international NGO described witnessing police beat the doorman of an upscale Cairo apartment building into disclosing the apartment number of a suspect. Another
contact at a human rights NGO told us that her friends do not report thefts from their apartments because they do not want to subject “all the doormen” in the vicinity to police beatings. She told us that the police’s use of force has
pervaded Egyptian culture to the extent that one popular television soap opera recently featured a police detective hero who beats up suspects to collect evidence.
¶4. (C) Contacts attribute police brutality to poor training, understaffing and official sanction. Human rights lawyer XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXX speculated that officers routinely resort to brutality
because of pressure from their superiors to solve crimes. He asserted that most officers think solving crimes justifies brutal interrogation methods, and that some policemen believe that Islamic law sanctions torture. XXXXXXXXXXXX commented that a culture of judicial impunity for police officers enables continued brutality. According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, “Police officers feel they are above the law and protected by the public prosecutor.” Human rights lawyer XXXXXXXXXXXX attributed police brutality against common criminals, including the use of electric shocks, to the problem of demoralized officers facing long hours and their own economic problems. He asserted that the police will even beat lawyers who enter police stations to defend their clients.
Internet connections across Egypt appear to have been cut, as authorities gear up for a day of mass protest. Net analysis firms and web watchers have reported that the vast majority of the country’s internet has become unreachable. The unprecedented crack down will leave millions of Egyptians without internet access. There have been unprecedented protest in the country over the past few days – much of it co-ordinated via the web. According to internet monitoring firm Renesys, shortly before 2300 GMT on 27 January virtually all routes to Egyptian networks were simultaneously withdrawn from the internet’s global routing table. That meant that virtually all of Egypt’s internet addresses were unreachable. Egyptian authorities seem to have manged this by shutting down official Domain Name Servers (DNS) in Egypt. These act as address books and are consulted by web browsing software to find out the location of a site a user wants to visit. Messages circulating in Egypt pointed people towards unofficial DNS servers so they could get back online.
Egyptian protester shot dead by police – Jan 27
Currently, we’re being told that large numbers of plainsclothes police officers and security officers are going through the streets covering parked cars with gasoline.The activists expect that the govt plans to light all the cars on fire, claim that the protesters were burning everything, and use that as a pretext to use severe violence to repress the protests, and eliminating all means for the people to relay the truth out of the country.They are being told by sources within the regime that very large groups of govt-organized thugs, calling themselves “ikhwan al-Haq” [a group never heard of, roughly translated as "brotherhood of truth"], are going to be in the streets with knives, swords, etc…, attacking and killing protesters in the streets tomorrow [Friday]; they don’t know whether this may be deliberately and falsely leaked to discourage demonstrators; but they do see evidence that these groups are being organized. they may also claim that these violent groups are the demonstrators as a pretext to use violence on the real demonstrators.
Stephen McInerney, director of advocacy for the Project on Middle East Democracy
9:02 am GMT
“The Egyptian authorities should allow protesters to exercise their right to assemble and protest peacefully. Instead protesters have met with exactly the kind of heavy-handed abuse and repression that people are protesting against.
We have seen wholly unacceptable and disproportionate policing of these protests. Instead of further crackdowns, the authorities should be investigating the widespread reports of excessive use of force by the police and holding those responsible to account.”
Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director, Human Rights Watch
AN Egyptian protester was shot dead by police overnight as nationwide protests raged into a third day and pro-democracy activists vowed to step up their campaign to oust President Hosni Mubarak. Mohamed Atef, 22, died when he was shot in the head by police during an exchange of fire between Bedouin protesters and security forces in the north Sinai town of Sheikh Zuwayed, witnesses and relatives said. His death brings to seven the number of people confirmed killed – five protesters and two policemen – since demonstrations against Mr Mubarak’s autocratic rule, inspired by the groundbreaking Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, erupted on Wednesday.
Medics said more than 100 people have been injured while a security official said that around 1000 protesters had been arrested in three days of protests. Top dissident Mohamed ElBaradei was expected to arrive from Vienna in Cairo today and according to his brother will join mass protests planned for after the weekly Muslim main prayers.
Egypt protests: ‘People are being hauled out by police and beaten’ – audio
At one o’clock in the morning, after a day covering the protests across the Egyptian capital, I found myself in Abdel Munim Riyad square, a downtown traffic junction close to Tahrir, Cairo’s central plaza, which had been occupied by demonstrators for several hours. Egyptian security forces had just launched an attack on Tahrir and thousands of people were now pouring in my direction, teargas heavy in the air. A few hundred rallied in front of me on Al Galaa Street; spying an empty police truck in the road, several people began to smash it up, eventually tipping it over and setting it on fire. In the distance, riot police could be seen advancing from Tahrir. I called the news desk to report that violence was spreading; while I was on the phone the police began to charge, sending me and several hundred protesters running. A short distance away I stopped, believing it safe; a number of ordinarily dressed young men were running in my direction and I assumed them to be protesters also fleeing the police charge behind them. Yet as two of them reached me I was punched by both simultaneously and thrown to the ground, before being hauled back up by the scruff of the neck and dragged towards the police lines.
The men were burly and wore leather jackets – up close I could see they were amin dowla, plain-clothes officers from Egypt’s notorious state security service. All attempts I made to tell them in Arabic and English that I was an international journalist were met with more punches and slaps; around me I could make out other isolated protesters also being hauled along, receiving the same treatment. We were being dragged towards a security building on the edge of the square, two streets away from my apartment, and as I approached the doorway of the building other security officers took flying kicks and punches at me. I spotted a high-ranking uniformed officer and shouted at him that I was a British journalist. He responded by walking over and punching me twice, saying in Arabic, “Fuck you and fuck Britain”. Other protesters and I were thrown through the doorway, where we had to run a gauntlet of officers beating us with sticks. Inside we were pushed against the wall; our mobiles and wallets were removed. Officers walked up and down ordering us to face the wall and not look back, as more and more protesters were brought in behind us. Anyone who turned round was instantly hit. After approximately an hour we were dragged out again one by one.
Egyptian Protests against Government
Around 50,000 people are expected to protest in Egypt on the January 28th 8:00 am (local time) until January 29th 7:30 am (local time). The event is being organised on Facebook with the following description:
“We will go out rallies in all mosques and churches of Egypt’s main heading on the public squares and sit until we receive our rights usurped. Egypt’s Muslims and Christians alike will emerge to fight corruption and unemployment, injustice and lack of freedom. Will be selected mosques and churches on Thursday night.”
January 26th 2011
Running battles between police and anti-government protesters continued in Egypt for a second day, despite the declaration of an official ban by the government on protests and gatherings, and a massive deployment of police in the country’s capital. Riot police and plain clothes officers armed with staves and bars broke up a demonstration outside one of Cairo’s biggest tourist hotels, the Ramses Hilton, on the banks of the river Nile. Tonight groups of demonstrators and police are still playing a violent game of cat and mouse through the city centre’s streets – with protesters quickly re-grouping after being broken up. The sound of police sirens and detonating tear gas canisters could be heard across the city, in the biggest protests against the regime of 82-year-old president Hosni Mubarak in three decades. Protests took place across Egypt, with gatherings broken up by police outside a number of locations in the capital, including Cairo’s supreme court, Nasser metro station and on Ramses Street.
Police continued to round up scores of people, including photographers and reporters covering the demonstrations. The latest clashes occurred on a day when officials announced that 860 people had been rounded up following mass protests against Mubarak on Tuesday, when at least four people died. The crackdown by authorities brought harsh words from European leaders, who expressed concern and said the events underlined the need for democratisation and respect for human and civil rights. One of the toughest comments came from German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, who said he was “extremely concerned” and called on all involved to show restraint. “We are seeing in the last few weeks that a country’s stability is not endangered by granting civil rights. It is through the refusal of civil and human rights that societies become unstable,” he said in a reference to Tunisia. British foreign secretary William Hague said: “We deeply regret the loss of life in the Egyptian protests. All parties should show restraint and avoid violence. It is important that the government listens to the concerns of those demonstrating and respects rights of freedom of assembly and expression. Openness, transparency and political freedom are important tenets of stability. We urge the government and demonstrators to seek a peaceful way forward.”
Hillary Clinton did not criticise Egypt’s government – a key American ally in the Middle East – saying only that the country was stable and Egyptians have the right to protest while urging all parties to avoid violence. “We believe strongly that the Egypt government has an important opportunity at this moment in time to implement political, economic and social reforms that respond to legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people,” she said at a news conference with visiting Jordanian foreign minister Nasser Judeh. Many of those demonstrators admit to being inspired by the Jasmine revolution in Tunisia, and have adopted some of the same chants and slogans. As in Tunisia, Egyptian opponents of Mubarak have been quick to utilise social networking sites to organise protests, although those appeared to be working intermittently amid claims – denied by the government – that Facebook, at least, had been shut down. “Mubarak never experienced this level of public anger and such a rejection of his legitimacy in 30 years of power,” said political analyst Issandr El Amrani. “This looks quite bad for him.”
4.40pm GMT January 26th 2011
• There has been a second day of protests in Egypt against the government of Hosni Mubarak. The demonstrators want Mubarak to stand down as president and want the government to provide some solution to the country’s economic problems, including serious poverty, rising prices and high unemployment.
• Police have rounded up 860 protesters since yesterday, the Associated Press is reporting. Again they used tear gas and beatings on the demonstrators. Facebook, Twitter and mobile phones have been sporadically blocked.
4.31pm: The Associated Press is reporting that 860 protesters have been “rounded up” by police since yesterday. In a report on today’s anti-government demonstrations, which took place in defiance of an official ban, police used tear gas and beat protesters to disperse them. The demonstrators are demanding that Hosni Mubarak stands down as president and the government provides some solution to Egypt’s economic problems, including serious poverty, rising prices and high unemployment.
“After nightfall today, more than 2,000 demonstrators were marching on a major downtown boulevard along the Nile when dozens of riot police with helmets and shields charged the crowd. It was a scene repeated throughout the day wherever demonstrators tried to gather. The crackdown by authorities brought harsh words from European leaders, who expressed concern and said the events underline the need for democratisation and respect for human and civil rights. However, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton did not criticise Egypt’s government – a key US ally in the Middle East – but only said the country was stable and Egyptians have the right to protest while urging all parties to avoid violence. Activists used social networking sites to call for fresh demonstrations Wednesday. But Facebook, a key tool used to organize protests, appeared to be at least partially blocked in the afternoon. On Tuesday, Twitter and cell phones appeared to be sporadically blocked as well. The interior ministry warned today that police would not tolerate any gatherings, and thousands were out on the streets poised to crack down quickly on any new signs of unrest after clashes yesterday that killed three demonstrators and one police officer.
Early today, thousands of policemen in riot gear and backed by armored vehicles took up posts in Cairo on bridges across the Nile, at major intersections and squares as well as outside key installations such as the state TV building and the headquarters of Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party. Police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of several hundred activists on a main commercial thoroughfare in central Cairo, chasing them through side streets as both sides pelted each other with rocks with hundreds of onlookers watching anxiously. Earlier, dozens gathered outside the Journalists’ Union in downtown Cairo and renewed the chants heard against Mubarak throughout Tuesday’s much larger protests. “Mubarak is leaving, leaving. Oh Egyptian people, be brave and join us,” they chanted. As police charged the crowd, beating them with sticks, they chanted “peaceful, peaceful.” In the city of Suez east of Cairo, an angry crowd of about 1,000 people gathered outside the city’s morgue demanding to take possession and bury the body of one of three protesters who died in clashes on Tuesday.
In the southern city of Assiut, eyewitnesses said riot police set upon some 100 activists staging an anti-government protest Wednesday, beating them up with batons and arresting nearly half of them. “Down, down Hosni Mubarak,” chanted the crowd. “Oh, people, join us or you will be next.” Security officials said up to 200 protesters were detained early today. More were likely to be detained as authorities review police videotapes of the protests, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.
Police have clashed with anti-government protesters in two major Egyptian cities following Tuesday’s unprecedented protests, witnesses say. Police broke up demonstrations in central Cairo, beating protesters with batons. Demonstrators also gathered in the eastern city of Suez. Meanwhile security officials said at least 500 people had been arrested in a crackdown against the protests. Public gatherings would no longer be tolerated, the interior ministry said. Anyone taking to the streets against the government would be prosecuted, it added. The BBC’s John Leyne in Cairo says the authorities are responding in familiar fashion, treating a political crisis as a security threat. Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif as saying the government was committed to “freedom of expression by legitimate means”, state news agency Mena reported. Police had acted with restraint, he said. However, Washington called on the Egyptian government to lift its ban on demonstrations.
White House spokesman Robert Gibb said it was important for President Hosni Mubarak to demonstrate “responsiveness” to his people. Protesters have been inspired by the recent uprising in Tunisia, vowing to stay on the streets until the government falls. They have been using social networking sites to call for fresh demonstrations, but both Facebook and microblogging site Twitter appear to have been periodically blocked inside Egypt. The government denied it was blocking the sites. Cabinet spokesman Magdy Rady said it respected freedom of expression and “would not resort to such methods”, Reuters news agency reported. Following a “day of revolt” across Egypt on Tuesday in which four people died, protesters attempted to stage new demonstrations in Cairo on Wednesday. There were scuffles reported outside the journalists’ union building in central Cairo as hundreds of people gathered to protest. Police beat some with batons and fired tear gas when they tried to break through a cordon, and protesters on nearby buildings threw stones. Reuters news agency reported more clashes outside a central court complex in the city.
Witnesses say riot police have been charging demonstrators throughout the day wherever in Cairo they happen to gather. Meanwhile, in the eastern city of Suez, crowds gathered outside the morgue where the body of a victim of Tuesday’s protests was being kept. One of Tuesday’s demonstrators, Mostapha El-Shafey, told the BBC he planned to join protests again on Wednesday. “I want to see an end to this dictatorship. Thirty years of Mubarak is enough. We’ve had enough of the state of emergency. Prices are going up and up,” he said. Demonstrations are illegal in Egypt, which has been ruled by President Mubarak since 1981. The government tolerates little dissent and opposition demonstrations are routinely outlawed.
Cairo, Egypt (CNN) — Protesters taking to the streets in Egypt on Wednesday felt the wrath of security forces, a day after an unparalleled display of public rage at the government and full-throated cries for the ouster of the longtime president. Police turned water cannons and tear gas on protesters in the early hours of Wednesday morning to try to break up unprecedented anti-government demonstrations as the Interior Ministry warned it “will not allow any provocative movement or a protest or rallies or demonstrations.” In the heart of Cairo, where people were being beaten with sticks and fists and demonstrators were being dragged away amid tear gas. Witnesses saw security forces harassing journalists and photographers. A minor clash happened in Suez, as well, according to the Interior Ministry. The ministry urged “citizens to renounce attempts to bid and trade their problems and not lose sight of the consequences of provocation for those who attempt to try to open the door to a state of chaos or portray the situation in the country this way.” The clampdown comes after thousands of protesters spilled into the streets of Egypt on Tuesday, an unprecedented display of anti-government rage inspired in part by the tumult in the nearby North African nation of Tunisia. At least four people died in the Tuesday clashes, the Interior Ministry reported — three protesters in Suez and one police officer in Cairo. It also said at least 102 security personnel were injured.
Calling its relationship with Egypt “strong and friendly,” the U.S. State Department regards Mubarak’s help in maintaining security in the Mideast as critical. The government, which has diplomatic relations with Israel, has helped forge peace between Israel and the Palestinians and has helped in efforts to stabilize Iraq, the State Department said. It contributes to U.N. peacekeeping missions, “played a key role during the 1990-1991 Gulf crisis,” and is a “key supporter of U.S. efforts against terrorists and terrorist organizations such as Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, the department said in a background note about Egypt. U.S. military aid to Egypt totals over $1.3 billion annually, and the U.S. Agency for International Development has passed along over $28 billion in economic and development assistance to the country since 1975. Asked about the protests, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that the United States believes the “Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Tuesday that the United States wants “to see reform occur, in Egypt and elsewhere, to create greater political, social, and economic opportunity consistent with people’s aspirations.” “We have raised with governments in the region the need for reforms and greater openness and participation in order to respond to their people’s aspirations — and we will continue to do so, Crowley said.
Police used batons and tear gas to break up an anti-government demonstration Wednesday; the activists had defied an earlier ban on such gatherings by the authorities.At least 500 people have been across the country, security officials said. Egyptian anti-government activists clashed with Egyptian police for a second day. Tens of thousands of Egyptian protesters continued to stage mass demonstrations around Cairo Wednesday, in defiance of an official ban on any gatherings. Police quickly moved in and used tear gas and beatings to disperse the protesters. According to Egyptian security officials, at least 500 people were arrested across Egypt. The figure includes 90 people in Cairo and 121 members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood in the southern city of Assiut, the officials told reporters without providing further details.On Tuesday, tens of thousands turned out in several cities for the biggest anti-government protests in years, activists used social networking sites to call for fresh demonstrations. But Facebook, key tools used to organize protests, appeared to be at least partially blocked in the afternoon. Interior Ministry warned police would not tolerate any gatherings, and there was a heavy security presence on the streets, poised to crack down quickly on any new signs of unrest.
Tuesday’s demonstrations were the latest in outbursts of political discontent in Egypt that have been growing more frequent and more intense over the past year. Protests have erupted sporadically over police brutality, poverty and food prices, government corruption and mismanagement, and more recently over sectarian strife between Christians and Muslims. Parliamentary elections in November were widely decried as fraudulent.Many in Egypt see these events as signs of authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak’s vulnerability in an election year. There is speculation that 82-year-old Mubarak, who recently experienced serious health problems, may be setting his son Gamal up for hereditary succession. But there is considerable public opposition and, according to leaked U.S. diplomatic memos, it does not meet with the approval of the powerful military. And the regime’s tight hold on power has made it virtually impossible for any serious alternative to Mubarak to emerge. At Wednesday’s protests, police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of several hundred activists on a main commercial thoroughfare in central Cairo, chasing them through side streets as both sides pelted each other with rocks with hundreds of onlookers watching anxiously.
Earlier, dozens gathered outside the Journalists’ Union in downtown Cairo and renewed the chants heard against Mubarak throughout Tuesday’s much larger protests. “Mubarak is leaving, leaving. Oh Egyptian people, be brave and join us,” they chanted. As police charged the crowd, beating them with sticks, they chanted “peaceful, peaceful.” Many protesters say they have been inspired by the uprising in Tunisia – even invoking some of the identical slogans heard in the other north African nation. On Tuesday, protesters clashed with police, who used rubber bullets, water cannons, tear gas and truncheons to disperse them. Three demonstrators and one police officer were killed in the clashes. The crackdown by Egyptian authorities has brought harsh words from European leaders, who expressed concern and said the events underline the need for democratization and respect for human and civil rights. However, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton did not criticize Egypt’s government – a key U.S. ally in the Middle East – but only said the country was stable and Egyptians have the right to protest while urging all parties to avoid violence.
For up to the minute news regarding the protests in Egypt log on to Twitter and search for: #jan25 and/or #egypt
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