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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs