BREAKING: Egypt’s ‘Day of Departure’ for Hosni Mubarak (Live blog)Posted: February 4, 2011
This post will update periodically with breaking tweets, links, and news overnight. Scroll down to the end for Al Jazeera Live feed (embedded within this post for your convenience).
BBC News: Egypt set for ‘Day of Departure’
4 February 2011 Last updated at 00:24 ET
Protesters in the Egyptian capital Cairo are preparing to stage a “Day of Departure” for President Hosni Mubarak.
Photo above: Anti-government protesters in Egypt are staging another mass rally billed as a “day of departure”, as their efforts to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak continue for an 11th day. (AFP)
Latest Updates on Day 11 of Egypt Protests from NYT’s The Lede.
Yesterday Mona Eltahawy tweeted: “My heart, my sould, my memories, what most excites me about Egypt, is there at Tahrir. Only thing keeping me optimistic re Egypt is youth” and “am torn between staying here NYC and continuing my media uprising to amplify Egypt voices and returning to Cairo for revolution.”
Mona’s tweets reminded of the title of a Rumi poem. From the Coleman Barks translation:
In Baghdad, Dreaming of Cairo: In Cairo, Dreaming of Baghdad — by Rumi
excerpt: It may be the satisfaction I need
depends on my going away, so that when I’ve gone
and come back, I’ll find it at home
My thoughts and prayers go out to the Egyptian people and to all the Egyptians and Arabs watching the revolution from outside the region. Our hearts break with yours as we watch the aftermath of the ugly state crackdown that has taken place over the last two days.
Special Note: Mona Eltahawy will be on Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO, Friday, 10 pm EST).
(in reverse chronological order so the latest is first)
Largely Peaceful, with reports of small incidents
around 7:30 am CST (2:30 in the afternoon in Cairo): Another report that people keep coming in and “the protests are gaining momentum.” I’m hearing mostly peaceful stuff on the AJE feed, but there have been some reports here and there of small confrontations.
Reporter who said that she’s hearing about the upward momentum also says that she hears high profile Egyptians are getting together and trying to plan and structure the voice and face of the movement, but there is no one name or face for a leader of the movement. She says she’s hearing ElBaradei (and another name I didn’t catch) are not acceptable to the protesters.
A mood of defiance
7 am CST: Still peaceful.
NYT headline — “Egyptians Defy Crackdown With New Mass Protests.”
Note, at 7:08 am CST– Al Jazeera reporter saying there is a developing situation at the October 6th bridge with a small group of Pro-Mubarak supporters yelling “Where is Al Jazeera now? We’re the real people of Egypt” or something to that effect. Concentration of tanks and riot gear at bridge appears to have been in place in preparation for something like this.
Chants of “peacefully, peacefully”
6 am CST: AJE correspondent says one of the chants that the Day of Departure protesters are saying is “peacefully, peacefully.” Another correspondent checking in to report that the scene is a “mirror image” of the peaceful protests from Tuesday. She also says there are no signs of any of the pro-Mubarak thugs, the streets are quiet, as has been reported by multiple correspondents during the past several hours. Switch to another reporter who says there is a bit of tension outside of the barriers but there is largely a return to the celebratory mood of the protest before the bloodshed on Wednesday and Thursday.
The concerns that things would get violent after Friday prayers have *so far* not been born out. Here is hoping things continue this way.
Yet another reporter describing the crowd as “rejuvenated.”
Interview with al-Ghad party’s Ayman Nour: more than 1 million people. Still concerns about police-instigated violence. Says “president must be removed from political scene.”
“Day of Departure” protesters want Mubarak to leave but do NOT want Suleiman either
around 5 to 5:30 am CST and onward: AJE anchor estimates that there are a million people at Tahrir. Someone at the scene describes a poster from the protests with American presidents (if I heard correctly, from Carter to Obama) on one side and Hosni Mubarak on the other. Protesters want Hosni Mubarak to leave but are chanting against Omar Suleiman as his replacement as well. AJE anchor says reports are coming in that there are *upwards* of one million people in attendance. Correspondent now saying that safety in numbers is the strategy — there is a feeling that perhaps letting the numbers dwindle in the middle of the week made it easier for the crackdown/massacre over the earlier 48 hours. Another correspondent reports “an atmosphere of euphoria,” with people erupting into cheers (I think when news plays on a screen there)…he’s also having the camera feed zoom in to the main entry point (bridge) and pointing out the makeshift barrier that has been made.
Midday prayers over; the “Day of Departure” protests begin
around 4:30 am CST and onward: The protesters are chanting very loudly, among other things, “he must leave, he must leave” and “invalid, invalid” in reference to Hosni Mubarak. I believe someone in the square reporting via phone on AJE just referred to the sound of the chanting there as “deafening.”
The Egyptian National Anthem is now being chanted–more like roared. Wow. This is incredible to watch/listen to via feed, I can only imagine what it’s like to experience this in person in Tahrir square.
Cutaway to Alexandria–the scene there is very much like the scene at Tahrir, with a chanting, roaring crowd. The AJE anchor says things appear to be getting a bit more unruly than the peaceful sense there was in the morning.
“The calm before the storm”
Midday in Egypt/4:20 am CST: for the past 20 minutes or so, AJE has been characterizing this as the calm before the storm and there is great concern that abuses will be carried out later in the day. Midday prayers are about to take place. I’ve added a screengrab that I took at the top of the hour. Mablue2 has also embedded some pictures in the Sky Dancing comments: see here.
Some good news if true — seems army is intervening on behalf of the people:
CNN’s reporting is along similar lines: “Troops in riot gear patrol Cairo as demonstrators plan mass protests…Demonstrators have built a barbed-wire barricade and stacked piles of rocks throughout Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where a large number of protesters had already gathered Friday morning to demand President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation. Military forces surrounded the square, and anti-government protesters manned their own security checkpoints, which included numerous blockades. ‘We’ve been here for more than 10 days, and change is coming,’ a group of protesters chanted inside the square.”
http://twitpic.com/3wbnmn: Image grab of Tahrir on AJA, timestamped Feb 4, 2011 at 7:36 am GMT
Recommended Reading and Links
“Mubarak’s day of departure?“: Brian Whitaker’s latest take at his personal al-bab blog, with observations on the constitutionality of Suleiman taking over and on the attacks on journalists
Robert Fisk, via Democracy Now: “Obama Administration Has Been Gutless and Cowardly in Dealing with the Mubarak Regime”
Killed in Egypt: a user list on google updating with the names, ages, and other info of lives lost in the protests.
From mablue2 —Washington’s hopes for the ‘day of departure’(Mark Mardell’s BBC blog) : “At a prayer breakfast today President Obama said, ‘The presidency has a funny way of making a person feel the need to pray. Abe Lincoln said, I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.’
Mr Mubarak’s defiance may have Mr Obama on his knees in prayer, but certainly not in submission. The White House is preparing, in great detail, for a world after Hosni Mubarak.”
Also from mablue2 — The art of counter-revolution (Arabist.net): “I have not been to Tahrir since the mob attacks on the protesters began. But what I’m seeing and hearing is amazing. People have braved gunfire and molotov cocktails. They have set up makeshift barricades and organized hospitals. Lifelong activists who once dismissed Egyptian youth as flighty and apathetic are coming away from Tahrir with their jaws agape at the persistance and ingenuity of this new generation.
But, when you wander the square or watch the protests on Jazeera, it’s easy to forget that there are still millions of Egyptians who haven’t been among the protesters, who distrust Arab satellite stations, and who derive their political narrative from state TV. Maybe they live in the countryside, and know their local NDP deputy (or NDP ‘independent’) well, and have a well-connected family patriarch to vouch for them before the police.”
Forced confessions and Torture
Bostonboomer heard on Rachel Maddow yesterday that the Egyptian government is airing forced confessions on state tv. She and I both have tried to look for any links on this but haven’t been able to find any yet. We’ll keep looking for information on this, but in the meantime, Bostonboomer did find these articles on the routine use of torture on ordinary Egyptian citizens:
US embassy cables: Police brutality in Egypt (The Guardian)
A journalist’s account
another from mablue2, Personal account: Attacked by thugs in the streets of Cairo: “As the Cairo mob turns against journalists, Yonathan Kellerman, 32, a Montreal photographer and documentary writer now living in Paris, details how he found himself under attack by thugs.”
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