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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More