A veiled Egyptian woman, with her national flag reading in Arabic ‘No to Mubarak’ attached to her back, walks with a stone towards makeshift barricades at Tahrir Square in Cairo on February 11, 2011.
Egyptian anti-government demonstrators face soldiers in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on February 11, 2011, as Egyptians gather for the 18th consecutive day calling for the end to President Hosni Mubarak’s regime.
Protesters get early start in Cairo’s Tahrir
CAIRO, Feb 11, 2011 (AFP) – As a foggy morning broke in Cairo, demonstrators began to awake in the city’s central Tahrir Square, preparing for what could be their biggest protest yet against President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.
As some caught a few more minutes of sleep in the tents that have sprung up on every part of the square’s green spaces, others were already chanting and milling around the epicentre of 18 days of protests, waving Egyptian flags.
The mood was defiant, after a night of crushing disappointment for Egyptians who had hoped to hear their long-time president was resigning.
Instead, Mubarak said he was handing much of his power to his vice president, but not formally stepping down until September.
Mohamed Ibrahim, a 42-year-old teacher who came from Egypt’s second city Alexandria for the Friday protest, said the speech was deeply disappointing.
“After 30 years we are tired of listening to him, all we wanted to hear was that he’s leaving,” he told AFP. “We hope to have enough people today to convince the army to make him leave.”
Many in the square discussed ways to make their demands more urgent, including protesting at the state television building and the presidential palace.
“I think today we have to go to the palace. Here in Tahrir, this is endless,” 60-year-old Abdul Aziz Habib, a factory owner, told AFP.
Despite the grimly defiant mood, protesters found lighter ways to express their anger at Mubarak. In the middle of Tahrir, someone had drawn a giant outline of a donkey on the ground.
Inside the drawing a caption read: “We received your message and we know that you are a donkey.”
Massive protests were expected across Cairo and much of Egypt after Friday’s main weekly Muslim prayers, due to end around 1100 GMT.
And the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, a group of senior military leaders who addressed the nation in a “communique number one” on Thursday, was expected to issue their second statement later in the day.AFP
Millions to march to Mubarak’s palace
Millions of anti-government protesters are expected to march on the presidential palace in Cairo after Hosni Mubarak refused to step down amid massive protests.
Meanwhile, thousands of anti-government protesters have already gathered outside the presidential palace in the suburban neighborhood of Heliopolis in the capital’s northeast.
Egypt’s state television building in Cairo has also been surrounded by outraged demonstrators demanding Mubarak’s immediate resignation.
Egypt’s main opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood has said that Mubarak’s ouster is not the demand of a particular group but the national demand of all Egyptian people.
Tensions are expected to escalate further on the eighteenth day of pro-democracy protests as millions are to come together at mosques for Muslim communal prayers on Friday.
Meanwhile, media reports said The Egyptian military’s Supreme Command Council is to make an important statement to the people.
Flurries of fury spread across Egypt on Thursday when the embattled president announced he did not intend to quit power and transferred some authorities to Vice President Omar Suleiman.
Human Rights Watch has called the recent move a “cosmetic change,” saying that Mubarak’s decision is far from a break with his three-decade abusive regime.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Abdoul Gheit has said that recent demonstrations against Mubarak’s despotic rule are the consequence of fraud in the recent parliamentary elections.
According to the United Nations, at least 300 people have so far been killed and thousands more injured during nationwide protests in Egypt.