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1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
A string of draconian measures enforced by the Egyptian authorities have failed to quell huge anti-government protests that have resonated across the country after weekly Muslim prayers on Friday.

In Cairo, the approaches leading to the iconic Tahrir (liberation) square, the focal point after nightfall of Tuesday’s clashes, emerged as a major battleground on Friday. At least 20,000 protesters packed the Qasr al-Nil Bridge that connects Giza, famous for its Pyramids to Tahrir Square, located not far from the Egyptian parliament building in downtown Cairo.

The website of the Egyptian daily, Al Masry Al Youm reported police unleashing on this bridge, a tear gas barrage on demonstrators. In running battles, protesters defiantly hurled back the still- smoking canisters of teargas, or threw them into the waters of the Nile.

Linking the Egyptian uprising to the Tunisian revolution, agitators on this bridge cheered and sang the Tunisian national anthem, evoking memories of the dramatic downfall earlier this month of the country’s dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben. Heavy smoke, apparently from a police vehicle that had caught fire was also visible from an area behind the Egyptian museum, located at Tahrir square, which had been cordoned off. Thousands of activists clashed with security forces outside of Al-Azhar Mosque, another city icon, in Islamic Cairo after Friday prayers, AFP reported. Reports of protests and heavy violence are pouring in from the port city of Alexandria, Suez, the Nile delta and the Sinai desert, illustrating the countrywide sweep of Friday’s irrepressible protests.

The spate of demonstrations witnessed on Friday have come in the face of an intense security crackdown. By sundown the Egyptian army was being deployed in central Cairo. Local media is reporting that army was heading towards the Egyptian state television headquarters. The foreign ministry and the ruling National Democratic Party headquarters are also located in this direction.

Earlier, Mohammad ElBaradei, a future reformist presidential hopeful who returned to Cairo on Thursday night was put under house arrest following afternoon prayers at the Giza mosque. Prior to his detention, he said that the end of the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was “imminent.” "They (the regime) are completely desperate. I hope the pictures will be everywhere to show how barbaric, petrified, and dictatorial the regime is. Now it's the people versus the thugs. "

Ibrahim Eissa, former Editor in Chief of the Arabic daily Al-Dostour newspaper, who was at Mr. ElBaradei side said that the Egyptian regime "seems terrified that these protests are turning into a full fledged revolution."

Over the last 24 hours, the Egyptian security establishment has been targeting the three main sources of the Egyptian revolt—Mr. ElBaradei and his party, the National Association for Change, the tech-savvy young Egyptian people who have depended extensively on the internet as a mobilisation tool, and the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition group, which is officially banned but is tolerated.

In the early hours on Friday, the Egyptian government cracked down on internet providers, snapping all international access on the worldwide web, going far beyond impairing Facebook and Twitter, the two social media networks that have been used by the uprising’s young to organise protests. Renesys, an American company that analyses internet data traffic said that Friday’s shut down was the biggest ever since the internet’s inception. The authorities also went after the Muslim Brotherhood, by arresting on Friday morning 20 leaders from the group. The Muslim Brotherhood website said that most of its top leadership was now behind bars.



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1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Some political analysis


(CNN) -- With public pressure mounting against the government of President Hosni Mubarak, the future of Egypt, the broader Middle East and international stability hang in the balance.

Mubarak's best option is to offer Egypt a safe landing. He should lift the 30-year state of emergency, renounce his candidacy in Egypt's September 2011 presidential election and allow civil society to prepare for a free and fair election under full international supervision.

The promise of a clear road map for transition will defuse tensions and ensure stability in Egypt and beyond. Exiting politics pragmatically will also guarantee the safety of Mubarak, who is 82, and that of his inner circle.

Change in the region is inevitable. The question remains: What shape and course will it take in each state? The status quo is clearly unsustainable in the long term. Most people simply have had enough of authoritarian rule and are tired of its constraints.

Social websites, such as Twitter and Facebook, did not cause the current upsurge but serve as critical enablers; the instability is clearly rooted in the lack of political opening, insufficient economic opportunity and years of corruption.

Although Tunisia served as catalyst sparking wider regional activism, the kettle of discontent was simmering in Egypt and beyond long before Tunisia's uprising.

In relative terms, Egypt is more open than other societies in the region: In 2008, Egypt was rated top reformer in the World Bank's annual Doing Business Report, which ranks ease of doing business by country. It praised the country for a series of actions aimed at making it easier to start a business, get credit and construction permits. However, benefits from all this have not adequately trickled down the social ladder.

After 30 years of martial law, most feel entitled to a better life. The state of fear is dissolving. Although the religiously inspired violence of the 1990s surfaces occasionally, it no longer serves as a credible pretext for denying civil liberties. The fatal beating of a young blogger by police officers in June further enraged public opinion.

The Middle East's landscapes are not only dominated by minarets. White satellite dishes bring global exposure to millions, particularly the young who constitute the region's overwhelming majority.

Complimenting Tunisians in his State of the Union address, President Obama avoided any reference to developments in Egypt. As it juggles for words, the Obama administration is trying to strike a balance between popular aspirations for democracy and American interests in a stable Egypt, a leading recipient of U.S. aid.

The Iranian revolution and its fallout continue to haunt U.S. foreign policy. The fear of another close regional ally falling to fundamentalism lurks in the American mind-set. Losing Egypt would have devastating consequences for stability in an already volatile region. After all, Egypt remains the largest and most populous Arab state with about 80 million people. Furthermore, it borders the explosive Gaza and Israel, the largest recipient of U.S. aid.

No political party is responsible for the current public activism. It is largely ordinary people on the front lines seeking reform. They must not be undermined, and any movement for change must guard against the calculated factions with drastically different agendas wishing to exploit current instability.

Egypt's largest political opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood, has remained largely silent, but it has now called for participation in demonstrations. Even so, keeping a low profile and allowing protests to take their course may best serve the Muslim Brotherhood's interests at present.

A more public role would trigger a fiercer government crackdown under the pretext of confronting extremism. Even if reform takes place, Egypt's military and security services will inevitably shape any final outcome to current instability.

The hopes of many are hinging on Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei. However, after years living abroad, his ability to lead is questionable. He remains largely disconnected from Egypt's streets and daily realities of its population, more than a third of which live in poverty.

ElBaradei reportedly under house arrest as Egypt sends army into the streets

However, this apparent liability can be an asset. ElBaradei's international profile can calm international concerns and ensure continuity with global institutions critical to economic survival. Not being tied to any political party can help make ElBaradei credible as an important transitional figure. After all, most Egyptians have no party affiliation.

As a moderating force above the political fray, ElBaradei can guide a broad-based coalition of national unity into a democratic age. He will never be a leader ordinary Egyptians can identify with, but can be representative of their aspirations for a more a transparent future in which citizens become greater stakeholders and leaders more accountable.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Marco Vicenzino.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
This was the most recent news at 9:40 pm London/Greenwhich time, Friday, January 28, from CNN

Editor's Note: This article is being updated constantly by CNN reporters worldwide. Follow: Live blogging on This Just In, the latest tweets from CNN correspondents and images from the protests. Send your video, images to CNN iReport.

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- The streets of downtown Cairo appeared to calm somewhat Friday night, after thousands of angry Egyptians earlier defied a government curfew and faced stinging police tear gas as they marched for change.

The United States had appealed for restraint, but early Friday evening the sounds of gunfire rang out near a Cairo police station on which protesters had converged, and in the coastal city of Alexandria.

The government cracked down throughout the day with thousands of riot and plainclothes police, later joined by army troops in tanks and armored personnel carriers equipped with gun turrets.

Undeterred, people ran, screamed, hurled rocks and accosted walls of security as they tried to make their way to central Cairo.

As Friday night wore on, however, CNN's Ben Wedeman said that a calm was settling in downtown Cairo amid little sign of authority.

"There is no government, there is no authority ... there's nobody to protest against," Wedeman said, speaking of the capital's downtown area. "State authority in much of downtown Cairo has disappeared."

Embattled President Hosni Mubarak imposed a nationwide curfew from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. State-run Nile TV said the curfew was in response to the "hooliganism and lawlessness" of the protesters.

Vans packed with riot police circled Cairo neighborhoods before the start of weekly prayers in the afternoon. Later in the day, Egyptian soldiers moved onto the streets, the first time the army has been deployed to quell unrest since 1985.

But protesters, fed up with economic woes and a lack of freedoms, defied all warnings to demand an end to Mubarak's authoritarian 30-year-rule.

They chanted "God is Great" and that the dictator must go. "Down, Down, Mubarak," they shouted.

Plumes of rancid, thick smoke billowed over the Nile River as, by day's close, chaos reigned in the bustling metropolis. The headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party was ablaze Friday night. Nile TV said protesters ransacked the building and set it afire.

Police fired water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas with force and impunity. A tourist on the balcony of his 18th floor hotel room told CNN he had to run in and wash his eyes and face from the stinging gas.

Police confiscated cameras from people, including guests at the Hilton Hotel.

As the government cracked down on protesters across Egypt, opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, who returned home to Cairo to join the demonstrations, was placed under house arrest, a high-level security source told CNN.

ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and former head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency, was warned earlier not to leave a mosque near downtown Cairo where he was attending Friday prayers.

U.S. President Barack Obama has not called Mubarak but has had multiple briefings on Egypt, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday afternoon.

Asked if Obama stands by Mubarak, Gibbs said that "we are monitoring a very fluid sitation" and that "this is not about picking a person or picking the people for a country."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the Egyptian crisis Friday, urging all parties to be peaceful and engage in dialogue. Egypt, a powerhouse in the region, is a key U.S. ally.

"We are deeply concerned about the use of violence by Egyptian police and security forces against protesters and we call on the Egyptian government to do everything within its power to restrain its security forces," Clinton said. "At the same time, protesters should also refrain from violence and express themselves peacefully."

She said the protests underscored "deep grievances within Egyptian society and the Egyptian government needs to understand that violence will not make these grievances go away."

Egyptian military officials who were in Washington cut short their talks at the Pentagon to head back to northern Africa, Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff, said Friday.

The Egyptian officials' meetings with their U.S. military counterparts had been scheduled to continue through Wednesday.

The State Department urged Americans to defer all non-essential travel to Egypt and within the country. Delta Air Lines said its last flight from Cairo will depart Saturday; all other Cairo service was indefinitely suspended, said spokeswoman Susan Elliott.

American Airlines and British Airways will allow customers with tickets between Friday and Monday to or from Cairo to change their flights at no charge, according American Airlines spokesman Edward Martelle.

Unprecedented demonstrations have erupted across Egypt, the most populous nation in the Arab world and often a barometer for sentiment on the Arab community.

"What happens in Egypt will have an impact throughout the Arab world and the Middle East," said Edward Djerejian, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Syria.

In the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, at least 1,000 protesters gathered and youths hurled rocks through black clouds of gas. Crowds ran through the streets toward the city's central square. There was no indication of a curfew in that city either, as people remained out well after the time it was to begin.

Further south in Suez, 15,000 riot police were out, using tear gas to disperse crowds, Nile TV said.

Riot police also confronted protesters in the cities and towns of Ismailia, Fayoum and Shbin Elkoum, according to the anti-government group Egyptian Liberation.

In nearby Jordan, meanwhile, about 1,500 protesters amassed in downtown Amman and hundreds of others turned out in other cities, witnesses said.

Egypt's Interior Ministry forbade protests Friday, but some Egyptians went door to door in Cairo, urging their neighbors to participate. The main opposition bloc, the Muslim Brotherhood, urged its supporters for the first time to take to the streets.

A Facebook page devoted to the demonstrations accrued more than 80,000 followers as of Thursday afternoon, compared with 20,000 the previous day. But hours ahead of the protests, the internet went dark in parts of the country. Some text messaging and cell phone services appeared to be blocked.

Servers of Egypt's main internet provider were down early Friday, according to multiple services that check whether servers used by specific sites are active. Servers for the Egyptian government's sites and for the U.S. Embassy in Cairo also appeared to be down.

"We are closely monitoring the situation and are aware that communication services, including social media, are being blocked," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Thursday. "We continue to urge Egyptian authorities to show restraint and allow peaceful protests to occur."

Even though it was difficult to use Twitter and Facebook within Egypt, thousands of others outside the country ran with the powerful social media tool to provide a real-time chronology of events. "Mubarak" was a trending topic.

Authorities arrested a prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader early Friday, detaining the party's main speaker, Issam al-Aryan, according to a relative. Police came to al-Aryan's Cairo home at 2:30 a.m. local time, his son-in-law said.

Other government critics voiced their opinions -- amazingly -- on state-run television.

A popular morning show on state-run Nile TV included comments from guests calling for the resignation of government officials and increased dialogue between authorities and arrested protesters.

The network carried coverage of the protests, even at times calling them large and peaceful.

They followed days of unrest that have roiled several Arab countries. Demonstrations in Tunisia led the president to flee that North African nation. Then came protests in Algeria, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan.

Essentially they are pro-democracy protests by people who are increasingly frustrated with the accumulating wealth of the elites in their respective countries, while a majority of the citizenry faces bleak economic prospects.

"They all want the same," said Emile Hokayem of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in the Middle East. "They're all protesting about growing inequalities, they're all protesting against growing nepotism. The top of the pyramid was getting richer and richer."

People are also fed up with authoritarian regimes that do not afford the people proper representation.

"Fundamentally it's a question of dignity. People's dignity has been under assault for decades," Hokayem said.

Mubarak has not been seen in public for some time. He is 82 and there has been speculation of failing health. Many Egyptians believe Mubarak is grooming his son, Gamal, as his successor, a plan that could be complicated by demands for democracy.

At least six people have died in the demonstrations so far, according to Egypt's Interior Ministry.

Four French journalists were arrested in Cairo but were later released, according to the French newspaper Le Figaro.

And a CNN crew covering the clashes in Cairo felt the wrath of the police.

CNN's Wedeman and Mary Rogers were under an overpass and behind a column as police tried to hold back protesters. Plainclothes police wielding clubs surrounded the CNN team and wanted "to haul us off," Wedeman said. In a struggle, police grabbed Rogers's camera, cracked its viewfinder, and confiscated it. Wedeman said the police threatened to beat them.


News is updated at the above link, where there are also videos.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
The military and the media: Holding the cards in Egypt?

(CNN) -- As mass protests swept Egypt on Friday, the actions of two key institutions served as indicators for what lies ahead for the embattled regime: the military and the media.

President Hosni Mubarak deployed the Egyptian army for the first time to the streets to quell angry demonstrations against his authoritarian regime. That's a sure sign of the government's desperation, according to experts on the region.

And for the first time, the state-run media didn't ignore the unrest or dump on the demonstrations as acts of terrorism in its usual manner. That, too, say experts, was a key indicator that Mubarak could be facing trouble.

It's a given that the military, a pillar of Egyptian authority since a 1952 coup toppled the monarchy, holds the keys at this critical juncture.

Many feared that the army will silence the protesters with its firepower and tanks that are now out on the streets of Cairo and Alexandria.

But Edward Walker, a former U.S. ambassador to Egypt, said that a military crackdown would be a "death knell not only to the military but the regime." Such a crackdown didn't happen in nearby Tunisia, where the authoritarian ruler fled the nation, and it was hardly what happened in Egypt on Friday.

On the contrary, Egypt's 450,000-strong armed forces are well-established and respected by the people. Journalists reported seeing protesters cheer army convoys as they drove into Cairo and Alexandria. Some embraced the soldiers on the ground; they were seen as saviors from excessive police brutality.

To Mohammed el-Nawawy, a professor at Queens University in North Carolina, the fact that the military was called out Friday showed that Mubarak was desperate. The all-important question is how loyal the armed forces will remain to the aging leader who has ruled Egypt with an iron fist for three decades.

Meanwhile, the state-controlled television network walked a tightrope Friday.

Early in the day, Nile TV began showing footage of the demonstrations of "tens of thousands of people" and reported the use of police tear gas. It aired opposition leaders criticizing the government for shutting down the lines of communication.

Shawn Powers, a Georgia State University assistant professor who studies international media, said it was unusual for an arm of the government to even cover these events or portray them as anything but acts initiated by unsavory elements of society.

"I'm amazed," Powers said of the coverage.

Even with social media and mobile phone messaging blocked, Egyptians could see events unfolding live on international networks including CNN. The Egyptian media may have felt that they would lose all credibility with the people if they were to completely distort the story.

Ultimately, Powers said, he suspected fissures within Mubarak's ranks and said some in the government may be thinking of their own future in a nation barely holding back from the brink.

"What we're seeing today is parts of the government feeling increasingly isolated from Mubarak or intentionally doing so to hold on to power after Mubarak goes," he said.

By the end of the day, however, Nile TV's coverage shifted, reverting to words like "hooliganism" and "lawlessness" to describe the demonstrations.

El-Nawawy, who has studied Egyptian media in depth, said Friday's media coverage could mean that Mubarak has no one left to blame, so he gave the protesters, many of whom are young people, a little wiggle room.

"The state media is walking a fine line to give credit to the young people, but in the meantime, it has to justify intervention and crackdown," el-Nawawy said.

El-Nawawy said things will get really thorny if Egypt's impoverished masses join hands with the protesters -- believed to be largely from the educated middle classes -- and the demonstrations grow to even more chaotic proportions.

That's when the military and the state-run media will both have to come to terms with events in their country.

That's when Mubarak, el-Nawawy said, may realize that he can shut down Facebook but not the People's Book.


Tejwant Singh

Jun 30, 2004
Henderson, NV.
This is just the beginning. We have been meddling in other countries' affairs for too long. In the 70's we backed the dictators of Latin America and even murdered the democratic elected President of Chile and installed the tyrant Pinochet. Similar things happened in other Latin American countries from Mexico to Argentina in which we played a vital role. Now, almost all countries are growing through their democratic pains but with its freedom they are able to endure them. Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalise gay marriage which is still a taboo and a Biblical NO, NO here in the US.

After the upstaging of the dictator in Tunisia, one of our many allies in the Arab world, the youth in other countries have become more bold and organsied, thanks to the American inventions of social media like Twitter and Facebook. Hosni Mubarak's days are numbered. I hope he plays his cards in favour of the people of Egypt. All his family has fled to London including his son who was considered the apparent heir to his 30 year brutal regime.

The tear gas thrown at the protesters is Made in USA, which can be used as a weapon by the radical Muslims like the opposition group Muslim Brotherhood which has been peaceful for sometimes in the past.

If we keep our nose out of it, then perhaps the youth who wants more freedom will not be influenced by the radicals.

If we do not interfere, may be these revolutions can become evolutions towards the true freedom and take people away from the radical Islam because this is just the dawn towards the freedom.Change is coming in the Arab world.

President Obama has done the right thing to side with the people if Egypt in his remarks today.

This is also a good lesson for Israel and hopefully, they may become serious in the peace process.

All the Humpty Dumpties created and paid for by us will fall, one by one. All the self installed and crowned Kings will be holding their broken tiaras. All the Kings' horses and all the Kings' men would not be able to put them together again because these Humpty Dumpties have worked against their own people for so long.

Tejwant Singh

PS: Spnadmin ji: Thanks for keeping us in the loop because Sikhi is based on justice for all, irrespective of anyone's hue,creed or faith.


ੴ / Ik▫oaʼnkār
Dec 21, 2010
Let us see if turns into another 30 years of autocratic rule or democracy.

However, pretty difficult to imagine a democracy sustaining in a country with 99% of the majority muslims as Sunni.

Good luck to emancipated, moderate and progressive people in Egypt.

Sat Sri Akal.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
With no legitimate police authority at this time, as police have essentially gone missing, the inevitable has now happened. The immoral and apolitical criminal element is now flexing its muscles and beginning to loot. Protesters are doing their best to prevent this. "Crucially no police have been seen on the streets since yesterday" (al Jazeera verbatim).

Ahmad Shafiq has been appointed prime minister (formerly Civil Aviation Minister, and former Air Force Chief)
Omar Suleiman has been appointed vice president.

"Military government dressed in civilian clothes" (al Jazeera).

Keep up with live feed http://english.aljazeera.net/watch_now/



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