News / Middle East

Egyptians Flood Tahrir Square for Massive Protests

A soldier holds a crying girl from his armored vehicle just outside Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Feb 1, 2011
A soldier holds a crying girl from his armored vehicle just outside Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Feb 1, 2011


Luis Ramirez

A huge crowd has gathered in central Cairo calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down. The opposition has called for one million people to protest.

Crowds headed on foot for Cairo's Tahrir Square throughout the day Tuesday.  They included women with babies in strollers.

Their confidence is boosted after the army, in an official statement, described the demonstrations as legitimate and promised it would not fire on demonstrators. Army helicopters dropped leaflets calling on demonstrators to keep the protests peaceful.

The demonstrators' message is a clear one and their hopes are growing for changes in a country where the same man has ruled for nearly 30 years.

"We want to change the system, we want new alterations. The army must be with us, the army must be with us not against us. The army must be with us, not against us," said a protester.

The army enjoys respect among Egyptians, among other reasons because it has no history of attacking its own people.

It was unclear how soldiers might react if some of the demonstrators made good on their promises to march on the president's residence.

Train service remains suspended for a second day in a bid by the government to discourage demonstrators from coming to the capital to protest.  Internet service has been down since the first day of the protest more than a week ago.

The atmosphere in the early hours of Tuesday's anti-government rally was friendly.  It was a different scene from last Friday when scores of people were killed and hundreds injured in clashes with police.  Throughout the downtown area the scars remain, with some buildings burned and looted. The towering headquarters of Mr. Mubarak's party is now nothing more than a burnt hulk along the Nile River.

Across Cairo, hundreds of young men are manning checkpoints to prevent looting. One vigilante told VOA he wants to see change in his country but does not want it destroyed in the process.

A big question that remains is what kind of state will emerge, if and when, Mr. Mubarak leaves power.  Already there are disagreements within the opposition on whether Egypt should simply make democratic reforms or eventually become an Islamist state.  

Supporters of President Mubarak interviewed on the streets in Cairo called for him to stay in power. Hundreds gathered in support of Mr. Mubarak at a separate rally.

Thousands of foreigners as well as Egyptian nationals trying to leave Egypt remain stranded at Cairo's airport as airlines continue to cancel flights.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs