Egypt Friday Tahrir 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Protesters poured into Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday with
supplies of food and water in an attempt to drive out Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak with a massive protest after a week and half of pro-democracy
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Soldiers checked IDs and performed body searches at entrances to
the square. Then human chains of protesters performed secondary searches.
The atmosphere was relaxed.
Pro-Mubarak crowds that have attacked demonstrators and foreign journalists did not have a visible presence in or near the square Friday morning.
Egyptian Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi and other top army officials
visited Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday as protesters amassed for
demonstrations, according to Egyptian state television.
After opponents and supporters of Mubarak clashed for a second straight
day on Thursday, protesters vowed to intensify their battle to oust
Mubarak on Friday.
Prominent Egyptian reform advocate Mohamed ElBaradei on Friday said Mubarak should step down now with dignity.
ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace laureate who has become one of the leaders of Egypt's protest movement, said Mubarak "should hear the clear voice coming from the people and leave in dignity."
He dismissed concessions so far by Mubarak, calling them "piecemeal," adding "it's a question of trust, and the trust is gone."
He told reporters that there should be a year-long transition to democracy under a temporary constitution with a presidential council of several people, including a military representative.Mubarak struck a defiant tone Thursday,
telling ABC News’s Christiane Amanpour he would “never run away” and would “die on the soil of Egypt.”
The embattled president said in an interview Thursday that he was ready
to leave office, but could not, for fear his country would sink deeper
“I am fed up. After 62 years in public service, I have had enough. I
want to go,” Mubarak said in an interview at the presidential palace.
Amanpour said Mubarak had told her he was troubled by the deadly
violence between anti- and pro-government groups in Tahrir Square and
that the government was not responsible for it. The president blamed the
outlawed Muslim Brotherhood for the violence and said he did not intend
to have his son Gamal assume the presidency after him.
Mubarak said that in a phone conversation with US President Barack Obama
earlier this week, he had told his American counterpart, “You don’t
understand the Egyptian culture,” and asked, “What would happen if I
step down now?” Looting and arson erupted throughout the capital
Thursday, as gangs of thugs supporting Mubarak attacked reporters,
foreigners and rights workers while the army rounded up foreign
journalists. The government seemed to be advancing a narrative whereby
foreigners had been fueling the turmoil and supporting the tens of
thousands of demonstrators in the streets.
Pro-government mobs beat foreign journalists with sticks on the streets
outside downtown Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protests. Dozens of
journalists, including ones from The Washington Post and The New York
Times, were reported detained by security forces. One Greek print
journalist was stabbed in the leg with a screwdriver, and a photographer
was punched in the face by attackers who smashed some of his equipment.Oren Kessler and Melanie Lidman contributed to this report