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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs