Anti-Mubarak activists pour into Cairo's Tahrir Square

Pro-Mubarak crowds that have attacked demonstrators and foreign journalists don't have a visible presence in or near the square; Egyptian Defense Minister Tantawi, army officials visit square.

Egypt Friday Tahrir 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
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 demonstrations.
Soldiers checked IDs and performed body searches at entrances to the square. Then human chains of protesters performed secondary searches. The atmosphere was relaxed.
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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 into chaos.
“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
Click here for full Jpost coverage of unrest in Egypt
Click here for full Jpost coverage of unrest in Egypt