...

Thousands in Egypt vow continued protests until dawn

Arab World Materials 25 January 2011 23:56
Tens of thousands of protesters continued to demonstrate nationwide Tuesday evening - vowing to carry on until dawn - in one of the largest anti-government protests ever since Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak took power nearly 30 years ago, dpa reported.
Thousands in Egypt vow continued protests until dawn

Tens of thousands of protesters continued to demonstrate nationwide Tuesday evening - vowing to carry on until dawn - in one of the largest anti-government protests ever since Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak took power nearly 30 years ago, dpa reported.

Banners and graffiti reading "Revolution on oppression" and "Down with Hosny Mubarak" could be seen on buildings and bridges in Cairo.

"I have never seen anything like this before," said Sarah Abdel- Rahman, 24, who said this was her first time joining a protest in Egypt.

The daylong protest, planned to coincide with Egypt's Police Day, is hoping to emulate the Tunisian uprising that led to the recent ouster of Tunisia's Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali after nearly 23 years in power.

"We are not less than Tunisia. Tens of thousands went out on the streets demanding their rights until the removal of the president and his escape from the country. We want our rights," said organizers in an Arabic statement on a Facebook group called Revolution Day against Torture, Poverty, Corruption and Unemployment.

"Bouazizi opened the door to change for all of us," one demonstrator told the German Press Agency dpa, referring to Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself ablaze and died after suffering repeated harassment from the authorities for trying to eke out a living selling vegetables on the street.

That action sparked the protests that led to Ben Ali's fall in Tunisia.

The Egyptian protesters called for the dissolution of parliament, implementation of democracy and higher wages, along with the ouster of Mubarak. They lamented unemployment and Egypt's Emergency Laws, which bans protests without government permits and allows the government to make arrests without charge.

While dozens of protesters were arrested throughout Egypt, dozens more were injured when black-clad riot police clashed with protesters who were calling for Mubarak to step down.

Security used rocks and sticks as well as tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters across Egypt.

Those badly injured in the clashes were rushed to nearby hospitals by ambulances. Several protesters were seen bleeding, while others fell unconscious in the streets of Cairo.

The demonstration began midday with hundreds gathering in North Sinai, where protesters blocked the road leading to a multinational peacekeeping forces' airport.

In Mahalla, a city north of Cairo known for its textile factories and workers' strikes, protesters pulled down posters of the president while chanting "Bring Him Down."

Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood, one of Egypt's largest opposition groups, reported that thousands of protesters were gathered in the coastal city of Alexandria, as well.

The Ministry of the Interior issued a statement accusing the Brotherhood and other opposition groups of inciting chaos and encouraging people to riot. It was not yet known if targeted arrests had been made.

In the capital, Cairo, thousands of men and women, old and young, marched and carried flags along the city's main streets, until they reached the central Tahrir Square.

By nightfall, security had failed to disperse the crowds in Tahrir Square, despite the use of force.

"We needed very much to go out to the streets," said Gamila Ismail, the former wife of 2005 presidential opposition candidate Ayman Nour.

"We also need to start planning for change, and that's what's important," she told dpa as she marched with protesters.

The protest - planned in at least 16 cities nationwide - was organized by over a dozen non-governmental organization's and rights groups, which described it as a "Day of Anger."

"Mubarak, what are you doing with our money?" and "Leave, leave, we want change," demonstrators chanted.

Throughout various parts of the country, security shut down roads and imposed security check points.

The police had vowed a day earlier that they would "deal firmly and decisively" with anyone attempting to take part in the protests, which did not have the government-required permit.

Protesters said they would continue demonstrations until dawn. Despite the size of the protest, it is still unclear if the momentum built from the demonstrations will translate into change on the ground.

"There seems to be a renewed energy and sense of possibility, one which is clearly being understood by Egyptians as part of a broader Arab narrative of a collective popular uprising against economic conditions, political repression, and corruption," said Mideast expert Marc Lynch in Foreign Policy online.

Tags:
Latest

Latest