Egypt Friday protests #Jan 25
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A photograph just sent over by one of our readers:
President Obama spoke to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak moments before Obama's speech. Obama said he's committed to working with the government of Egypt and the people of Egypt. Though he did not come out clearly on either side in the tumult, he did say, "The future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people." He also said that "governments have a responsibility to respond to their citizens."
President Obama will make a statement about Egypt.
People taking to the streets of Cairo - Mubarak couldn't have made it worse if he tried. #jan25
Seems protesters are gathering again downtown, chanting "down down with mubarak" #jan25
Prominent Egytian activist Essam Sultan to Al Jazeera, "This will be Mubaraks last speech" #Jaan25 (there seems to be a consensus)
As with many protests in Egypt, a second phase has begun as people look for friends and family members who are missing. Egypt, which Mubarak has kept under an emergency law since 1981, maintains the authority to detain citizens without warrant, and records to show who is in custody are often unavailable. Those who can send messages via social networks to locate one another and share news of their compatriots. The imposed Internet blackout, however, has made it even harder to tell who has been arrested and who is simply offline. On Twitter, messages from those who are able to get online ring out, trying to share what little information is available about the missing. One prominent Egyptian blogger and journalist Hossam el-Hamalawy has been missing the whole day:
Al Jazeera reports that the latest casualty numbers from Egypt are 1,030 injured countrywide and 11 civilians killed in Suez, where the most violent protests took place Friday.
In his televised speech, President Hosni Mubarak urged Egyptians to calm their protests and said he would press ahead with social, economic and political reform. However, he did not offer the one thing protesters have been demanding all week: his resignation. Instead, he called for his cabinet to resign and said he would name a new government in the morning.
President Hosni Mubarak is currently addressing Egypt on the national television channel. "No democracy will be there if we allow chaos," he said.
From the Post's Style Tumblr:
The Post's James Buck (who tweeted out his own arrest in Egypt in 2008) writes a primer on Egypt's relationship to the Internet:
In the Arab Middle East, Egypt was once a forerunner on the Internet, licensing private service providers and allowing broad access to its citizens. Now, in the midst of a crisis, the Cairo government is pulling the plug.
Egypt's blogging universe is vast. According to a State Department cable released by WikiLeaks, the country has an estimated 160,000 bloggers who write in Arabic, and sometimes English. "One can view posts ranging from videos of alleged police brutality ... to comments about the [government's] foreign policy, to complaints about separate lines for men and women in government offices distributing drivers' licenses," said the cable, dated March 2009.
Still, Egypt has been far from lax in its policy toward bloggers and others who have crossed sensitive lines. As long ago as 2001, the government arrested its first "Internet prisoner," Shohdy Naguib, who published online a political poem by his father, whose work had been banned in the country.
The following year, Reporters Without Borders reported that Egypt's Ministry of the Interior had created a department to monitor and prosecute what it deemed Internet crimes.
In some cases, however, the government's actions against online expression have served only to galvanize ordinary Egyptians. After one notable blogger, Abdel Karim Suleiman, was jailed in 2006 for writing a harsh critique of the esteemed Al-Azhar Islamic University, he became a cause celebre among other bloggers -- and a symbol of the government's online crackdown.
In another case that year, Hossam el-Hamalawy, now considered one of the leading voices from the Egyptian left, wrote about a case in which a prisoner was tortured and raped. The scene was captured on cellphone video footage -- apparently taken for fun by prison officers. After el-Hamalawy interviewed the victim, news of the case circulated widely and served to unify those who felt persecuted by the government. .
It has become increasingly common for bloggers to be arrested, harassed and even tortured. When an activist is arrested, his compatriots often post homages on their own blogs and broadcast details of brutal beatings by police.
With the eruptions of protests this week, users of social media have helped circulate images of clashes with police. The government's virtual shutdown of the Internet and cellphone services has stemmed the flow of information from the ground, but foreign sympathizers have been offering their dial-up Internet service passwords to Egyptians, allowing leaks. Social networks, in turn, have helped to echo and amplify those leaks.
Press secretary Robert Gibbs said that President Obama knows opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei well and has worked with the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize laureate on nuclear proliferation issues.
Asked if ElBaradei's house arrest should be ended, Gibbs replied, "These are the type of activities that the government has a responsibility to change."
The protests in Egypt have set off fears demonstrations could spread to other oil-producing countries, causing a 4.2% increase in light, sweet crude for March, moving the price per barrel from $85.64 to $89.25 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the Wall Street Journal reports. Brent crude is also up, from $97.39 to $99.02 a barrel. ABC reports that some nervous traders are pulling money they had invested in oil to buy gold, the dollar and other assets.
And the Washington Post's Sarah Halzack says the Egyptian stock market is suffering, too:
Egypt's benchmark index, the EGX 30, took a 10 percent dive. It was the index's largest one-day drop in more than two years. In fact, officials went so far as to temporarily halt trading in the markets.
While Egypt doesn't produce nearly as much oil as some of its Middle Eastern neighbors, it plays a pivotal role in the region's oil politics, as many oil and fuel shipments pass through the Suez canal. If instability continues, it could disrupt the supply of oil.
Two weeks after Tunisia erupted in riots and overturned the government of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, The Post's Sudarsan Raghavan sends back an update from the charred remains of a mansion reportedly occupied by Ben Ali's nephew. Many Egyptian protesters say they were motivated after watching the events unfold in Tunisia. Raghavan writes::
Today, the infinity pool is filled with debris. The 30-foot floor-to-ceiling windows are shattered. The smell of charred wood wafts through the air as scores of visitors see the luxurious lifestyles of their former elites for the first time.
"The smell of fire is also the smell of freedom and happiness," declared Sami Soukah, a retired driver, as he looked up at the carcass of a crystal chandelier. "They stole the people's money. We are not sorry that this happened."
Read the full story here.
The United States will review its $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt. "We will be revieiwng our assistance posture based on events now and in the coming days," Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in today's press briefing.
Egypt has remained one of America's strongest allies in the region over multiple U.S. presidential administrations. President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been careful to temper any criticism of the Mubarak regime as protests grip the country. "The decision to review assistance to Egypt is a significant step as the U.S. seeks to balance the desire to maintain stability in the region with a recognition of the unexpected scope and uncertain outcome of the protests," the Associated Press reported.
"The legitimate grievances that have festered for some time need to be addressed by the Egyptian government," Robert Gibbs said in the ongoing press briefing.
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs will be speaking at the White House at 3 p.m. EST. There is some speculation as to whether or not President Obama will also talk. Watch live here:
The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal has posted translations of an Egyptian protest guide. The 26-page pamphlet includes directions for distribution: it was to only be shared thorugh email or other contacts, not on Facebook or Twitter.
The booklet is called: "How to Protest Intelligently."
Here are the "Demands of the Egyptian People," as listed in the document:
1. The downfall of the regime of Hosni Mubarak and his ministers,
2. The cessation of the Emergency Law,
5. The formation of a new, non-military government with the interests of the Egyptian people at heart, and
6. The constructive administration of all of Egypt's resources.
The document includes details of necessary clothing and accesories, rules on how to assemble with friends, shout slogans, and recruit new protesters, as well as guidelines on how to fight back riot police.
On Jeff Stein's Spy Talk blog, he asks what role the CIA may be taking in Egypt:
The ghost of the 1979 Iranian revolution is very much on the minds of veteran intelligence officials as Egypt explodes in street protests. Most historians agree that the CIA was largely in the dark when anti-American students, radical Islamists and mullahs ignited street protests in Tehran because the U.S.-backed shah had forbidden the CIA to have contact with opposition groups. The CIA can't let that happen again in Egypt, intelligence veterans say -- and it probably isn't.
Former CIA director R. James Woolsey says agency officials' main mission in Egypt today is "to make sure that they are getting information from all factions where they don't already have relationships and that they are not making the same mistake they did under the shah -- talking only to regime-approved people."
Read his full column here.
Last April, Christiane Amanpour spoke to Mohamed ElBaradei, the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize winner currently under house arrest in Cairo. She asked him why he considered a run against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. "My primary goal is to see my country Egypt ...make a genuine shift toward democracy," ElBaradei said. He said the country has not had democracy in 50 years.
The U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert for Egypt. From the release:
The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to defer non-essential travel to Egypt at this time and advises U.S. citizens currently in Egypt to defer non-essential movement and to exercise caution. This Travel Alert expires on February 28, 2011.
In the event of demonstrations, U.S. citizens in Egypt should remain in their residences or hotels until the situation stabilizes. Security forces may block off the area around the U.S. Embassy during demonstrations, and U.S. citizens should not attempt to come to the U.S. Embassy or the Tahrir Square area at such times. The Embassy duty officer is available to U.S. citizens for emergencies at +20 1 2797-3300 during evening and weekend hours and the American Citizens Services Section can be reached at +20 1 2797-2301 during business hours, Sunday to Thursday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Egypt's national carrier says it has suspended its flights from Cairo for 12 hours. The company said its flights from abroad will be able to land, but departures are cancelled.
Separately, a Cairo Airport official said a number of international airlines had canceled flights to the capital, at least overnight. The official was not authorized to speak to the media and spoke on condition of anonymity, the Associated Press reports.
From Leila Fadel, one of our correspondents in Egypt:
All over Cairo, including in upper-class neighborhoods, protesters scrawled anti-government graffiti on walls. "Down with Mubarak" was a common slogan. In one neighborhood, teenagers walked around wearing police riot gear. It was not immediately clear where or how they obtained it. Elsewhere, people went ahead with their daily activities. In one poor neighborhood, a family was getting ready for a wedding.
Medical sources say 410 people have been injured, some with bullet wounds, Reuters reports.
People are concerned that the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, also known as the Egyptian Museum, could be damaged as a result of the demonstrations in Cairo. It holds Tutankhamen treasures, mummies and other relics from Egypt's rich history. The museum sits close to the headquarters of the National Democratic Party (NDP), which some news sources have reported was set ablaze during demonstrations.
From our correspondents:
In some parts of the capital, the protests appeared to grow more violent, and there were reports that demonstrators were attacking government buildings and a police station. But in other parts, an apparently festive atmosphere prevailed, as demonstrators warmly greeted newly deployed army troops and urged them to join the protests. Unlike the police, the military did not appear to be battling the demonstrators.
As the army rolls into Alexandria and onto the streets of Cairo, protesters seem to be happy to see them. CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports that demonstrators at the Information Ministry in Cairo are chanting: "The people and the army, we are one." The New York Times' Robert Mackey says that protesters have more confidence in the military than they do in the police. The Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm reports that the Egyptian Army had been deployed in Cairo in 1977 during bread riots and in 1986 to quell police riots. During the last six decades, the army has never fired on Egyptian civilians.
AJ report from Alexandria suggests the Egyptian army's decided which side they're on, and it's not Mubarak's - shaking protesters' hands.
We now get photographic proof that some of the police and protesters are cooperating:
Thousands of protesters have stormed Egypt's Foreign Ministry building, the Associated Press reports.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged calm on both sides of the protests, but emphasized the importance of the democratic process, coming down more clearly on the side of the protesters. "We call on the Egyptian government to do everything in its power to restrain security forces," she said. "We urge the Egyptian authorities to allow peaceful protests and to reverse the unprecedented steps it has taken to cut off communications....We want to partner with the Egyptian people and their government to realize their aspirations to live in a democratic society that respects human rights." She spoke unusually slow, clearly aiming her remarks to non-English speakers and she never mentioned Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak by name.
Reform is vital to #Egypt's long-term well-being. The Egyptian government should view its people as a partner and not as a threat.
Very concerned about violence in Egypt - government must respect the rights of the Egyptian people & turn on social networking and internet
Despite the blackout on most Internet servers, there are still people able to access the web. PC World reports that Noor Data Networks, a provider used by the Egyptian Stock Exchange, is unaffected. Some users are subverting the ban by using dial-up access that reroutes them through other countries. Others are relying on virtual private networks, or VPNs, that mask the location of Internet access. CNN links to a CNN iReporter's Facebook page where she has uploaded photographs of the riots, supposedly through a VPN.
Though only around 19 percent of Egyptians are online, according to a 2009 report by InternetWorldStats.com, Egyptians have used Twitter and Facebook extensively to organize and promote the protests.
There are conflicting reports about a possible fire at the National Democratic Party (NDP) headquarters building in downtown Cairo. The Associated Press says the building has been set on fire. The NDP is the party of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. However, a CNN reporter thinks the fire is coming from cars set ablaze near the building.
More from Griff Witte in Cairo:
The Egyptian government imposed a curfew on Cairo, Alexandria and Suez at 6 p.m. Friday (11 a.m. in Washington), but the surging crowds did not heed it, appearing only to grow more violent and more intense.
With state television announcing that President Hosni Mubarak would appear on television momentarily to address the nation for the first time since the crisis began, riot police seemed to be pulling back from their positions.
Protesters, meanwhile, pressed forward and grew less organized and more violent than they had been in daylight. Demonstrators torched armored personnel carriers on some Cairo streets, and live video reports showed security trucks careening wildly through the crowds. Gunshots and the firing of tear gas continued uninterrupted. It's unclear if the gunshots were from live ammunition or rubber bullets.
There were reports that Mubarak was sending the military out to patrol the streets alongside or instead of the heavily armed riot police. As the army's tan camoulflage vehicles took the place of the black police vehicles in some areas, the crowds surrounded them, cheering and chanting and appearing to be urging the soldiers to join their cause.
Reuters is reporting that British telecommunications company Vodafone said Egyptian authorities "had instructed all mobile operators to suspend services" in parts of Egypt. Vodafone says it will comply with the request.
A curfew in the main Egyptian cities has been set on Friday evening. "According to what some provinces witnessed in terms of riots, lawlessness, looting, destruction, attack and burning of public and private property including attacks on banks and hotels, President Hosni Mubarak decreed a curfew as military ruler," said a state TV announcer. The curfew will last from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. EET (11:00 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST) in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez.
Mubarak is scheduled to speak publicly soon.
The Post's Leila Fadel in Suez, Egypt reports:
In this port city, site of some of the most intense confrontations between protesters and Egyptian security forces this week, thousands of demonstrators overwhelmed riot police after a two-hour battle at a police station.
The protesters hurled what appeared to be gasoline bombs at armored carriers, setting at least a half dozen of the vehicles on fire with the occupants inside. The surging crowds then freed the prisoners who were being held at the station. They began looting, carting off anything they could find in the police building, including weapons. Clouds of tear gas hung over the city as the police fled from the scene.
Egyptian state security forces have entered the building in which Al Jazeera's office in Cairo is located, the news organization reports.
The Post's Griff Witte just called in with an update on the violence breaking out in Cairo:
On the 6th of October Bridge, which spans the Nile in the heart of the teeming capital, two protesters were shot by police and collapsed on the ground, unresponsive. They were loaded into a van that appeared headed for a nearby hospital, but police stopped the van, pulled out the people accompanying those who had been shot and began beating them with wooden batons. The fate of those who were shot was not known.
CNN's Ben Wedeman is reporting that the Egyptian military has now turned out on Cairo streets to fight back demonstrators. Previously, only hired riot police had been on the streets. A military presence could be seen as a sign that the riot police were not able to contain the protests. Police have already used water cannons, rubber bullets, and tear gas against protesters.
A further sign of trouble in Egypt: International ratings agency Fitch Ratings has downgraded Egypt's rating outlook to negative from stable. From Fitch: "The Outlook revision reflects the recent upsurge in political protests and the uncertainty this adds to the political and economic outlook ahead of September's elections."
10:15 a.m. Widespread reports of beatings and one dead in Suez
Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal reports that a protester has been killed and his body carried through the street in today's violent clashes. There is also an outbreak of violence along the 6 October bridge in Cairo. A number of journalists have reported being beaten. Four French journalists were arrested earlier today, but have since been released.
10:03 a.m. Mohamd ElBaradei under house arrest
Mohamed ElBaradei, Egypt's leading dissident and former U.N. nuclear-watchdog chief, is under house arrest, the Wall Street Journal reports. Earlier in the day, he took to the streets with an entourage, and Egyptian riot police turned water canons on his group. Though his political aspirations are unclear, many of his supporters want him to run against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
9:53 a.m. Egypt's economic state
The extent to which economic and social issues in Egypt led to this week's revolts has yet to be determined. But several measure's of social progress point to signs of struggle.
The CIA World Factbook compiles statistics on the economies of governments across the globe. Here are some of their numbers on Egypt::
2010 unemployment rate: 9.7%
2009 GDP (gross domestic product) per capita: $6,200. (This number ranks 137 when compared to the rest of the world.)
Percent of population below the poverty line: 20% (as of 2005)
Literacy rate: total population: 71.4%
Female: 59.4% (2005 est.)
Source: The CIA World Factbook
Though there are widespread reports of police beating demonstrators, journalists also have been sending back reports that security forces may be wavering in their support of the Mubarak government.
In the New York Times, Nicholas Kulish and Souad Mekhennet report from Alexandria that: "A two-hour pitched street battle ended with protesters and police shaking hands and sharing water bottles on the same street corner where minutes before they were exchanging hails of stones and tear-gas canisters were arcing through the sky."
9:42 a.m. Internet withdrawal
Renesys, an online company that tracks transparency on the web, created a graph showing the sharp rise in Egyptian prefixes withdrawn Thursday night at about 5:34 p.m. EST. On the company blog, James Cowie wrote:
Critical European-Asian fiber-optic routes through Egypt appear to be unaffected for now. But every Egyptian provider, every business, bank, Internet cafe, website, school, embassy, and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs for their Internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world. Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr, and all their customers and partners are, for the moment, off the air.
The most prolific Twitter users have gone silent in Cairo, and the Post's correspondents in the city have been unable to get online
9:30 a.m. US Leaders speak out on Egypt
During a You Tube Q&A event, President Obama spoke on the continuing violence and protests in Egypt, the government of President Mubarak, and the relationship between the U.S. and the country. Obama said that while Egypt is an ally, violence isn't the answer.
"Egypt's been an ally of ours on a lot of critical issues," Obama said. "President Mubarak has been very helpful on a range of tough issues in the Middle East. But I've always said to him that making sure that they are moving ahead on a reform, political reform, economic reform, is absolutely critical to the well-being of Egypt. And you can see these pent up frustrations that are being displayed on the streets."
Vice President Joe Biden spoke to the PBS NewsHour Thursday. From PBS:
Biden told Jim Lehrer Thursday afternoon that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the target of anti-government demonstrations in Cairo, is someone he knows "fairly well" and does not consider to be a dictator. But the "time has come for President Mubarak to begin to move in the direction of being more responsive to some of the needs of the people out there."
When asked by Lehrer if it is time for Mubarak to stand aside, Biden remarked: "I think the time has come for President Mubarak... to be more responsive to some of the needs of the people out there."
Here's the video:
Secretary Clinton took the side of Facebook and Twitter, urging Egypt's government "not to prevent peaceful protests or block communications, including on social media," Bloomberg reports.
Clinton also gave a statement January 26th, urging restraint. "We call on all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from violence... We believe strongly that the Egyptian government has an important opportunity at this moment in time to implement political economic and social reforms to respond to the legitimate and interests of the Egyptian people."
9:05 a.m. Video of protests
Despite a ban on rallies, people still crowded the streets. Police are firing rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowd.
Warning: the following footage contains violent images
8:45 a.m.: Internet down as demonstrations continue
We'll be live blogging all day Friday as protests unfold in Egypt. Already, there are reports of violent conflicts in Cairo, and Internet and cell phone services remain down.
The story of the first protest dubbed #Jan25 on Twitter
Here's the story of Tuesday's protests told from the social media scene. The day started with a heavy police presence and built up with protests in different locations. Toward the end of the day, Twitter filled with notices of the service being down, arrests, and reports of many young men missing.
(The program uses Google Translate, so there might be some errors and some profanity.)
Select "English" from the drop-down menu to translate Tweets to English using Google Translate.
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|The Rule of the Nile|
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