News / Africa

Mubarak Speech Prompts Egypt Protesters to Carry On

Anti-government protesters demonstrate in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, Egypt, February 10, 2011
Anti-government protesters demonstrate in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, Egypt, February 10, 2011
Elizabeth Arrott

The tension in Cairo is palpable after a chaotic day that saw the hopes of anti-government protesters raised, then dashed when President Hosni Mubarak told the nation he would delegate some powers, but stay on in office.  After newly-empowered Vice President Omar Suleiman then told demonstrators to go home, many planned even bigger protests Friday.

It was the speech the protesters did not want to hear.  After signals from the military that Mr. Mubarak was going to step down, the mood in the square had grown jubilant.  Then the words of the president were relayed on loudspeakers and the expectant crowd grew quiet.  As it became clear the man they want gone was not bidding farewell, the jeers began.   By the end, the anger, sadness and a renewed sense of determination was overwhelming.

One protester said, "He lost the trust of every Egyptian now.  He keeps promising us without doing anything.  In this latest speech, he didn't say anything new.  He just repeated the other speeches and said it again.  We are all disappointed and we want revenge for the people that died for the sake of freedom.  We will not stop at this point.  This is not the end."


A fellow demonstrator also took no comfort in Mr. Mubarak's promise to review the much-hated emergency laws and other concessions they saw as far too little, far too late.  He said, "We get nothing, we get nothing.  We want the regime and the head of the regime down.  We don't want this regime anymore.  This regime is against us, against our freedom, against the Egyptian people."

The speech marked another shift during 17 tumultuous days in the political life of Egypt.  Only an hour before, the crowd was happily thinking of what life would be like after the president was gone.

Lawyer Aya Badrawi didn't stop smiling as she contemplated the future.  She said, "Today I am extremely happy, Finally it's a victory of the people.  It's the beginning for freedom and democracy.  Definitely these people found their way and definitely we will be having a different Egypt and a better one."

The square was alive with hope.  Singers made their way through crowds, vendors hawked t-shirts and popcorn and a sea of flags proclaimed a pride in country, if not its leaders.  The make-shift village of tents and field hospitals had grown to include an arts and crafts corner, where children, whose parents brought them to view history in the making, were painting watercolors.

A marketer, among those helping out, said,"Hopefully, if he leaves, that would be the best thing ever.  For sure there will be some chaos.  We're ready for it, because freedom never comes cheap and we are not going to give up our freedom for safety.  We just want both."

Now neither seems guaranteed.  No one was willing to predict what the army, so far largely neutral through protests, would do if the demonstrations continued to grow.

But Noura, a graduate student at the square, vowed they would not give up, matching Mr. Mubarak's decision to carry on, saying, "We came here and thought we would celebrate that he is finally leaving.  But he said total nonsense and he is staying.  The people will not stop and we will fight until he leaves, because he wants to crush our dreams and he will not be able to do so any more.  We broke the fear."

Even as some left the square to sleep before more protests expected after Friday prayers, others set out across the city to take up positions beyond Tahrir during the night.

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

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs