Feb 2, 2011

Trouble In Egypt - January 31st-February 2nd

It would appear that due to the lack of news I forgot that this blog was originally for news, and so I've completely ignored the Egyptian protests. Instead of trying to cover over a weeks worth of events I'm just going to report the last three days or so.

January 31st (Day 7 of the protests) saw possibly one of the biggest hits to the government since protests began, with the military releasing a statement that they will not shoot upon protesters:
"The armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people. Your armed forces, who are aware of the legitimacy of your demands and are keen to assume their responsibility in protecting the nation and the citizens, affirms that freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to everybody."
 The loss of military support is of course a  death blow to any government under threat of revolution and this is a turning point that will certainly affect the outcome of the protests. There are also reports of major prisons being attacked nationwide as law and order rapidly deteriorates, with looters burning the Arkadia shopping mall in Cairo along with many other instances of criminal damage. All internal and outbound flights have also been cancelled by Egypt Air and an inbound flight from London to Cairo was redirected to Athens due to an alleged bomb threat. Many cities have also experienced industrial strikes, causing Japanese firm Nissan to suspend production at their plant to ensure the workers' safety, however Korean firm Hyundai are still working. Internationally known archeologist Zahi Hawass was appointed by President Mubarak to the newly created cabinet post of Minister of Antiquities during the cabinet shake up and has said in a statement published on his personal blog that "the broken objects"- damaged during looting of the Cairo Museum - "can all be restored, and we will begin the restoration process this week". In a media interview he rejected comparisons with Iraq and Afghanistan and said that antiquities were being safeguarded.

The first day of the month saw millions take to the streets in a "March of the Millions" called for by opposition leaders (pictured below). The BBC said it was difficult to estimate the number of protesters in Tahrir Square, reporting that the numbers ranged from "more than 100,000 to some 250,000 – the square's maximum capacity.", with the Egyptian security forces stating that 500,000 people would have participated in the protests in Cairo. According to Al Jazeera, over one million protesters gathered in central Cairo by the afternoon, growing to 2 million as it became late, while hundreds of thousands protested in Alexandria, and an estimated 250,000 protested in Sinai and Suez. This was the largest mobilisation in the eight days of protest, with Mubarak being symbolically hanged. The overall number of protesters nationwide has been estimated to be around 8 million, alongside a virtual "March of Millions" taking place on Facebook in solidarity with Egyptian protesters, with a goal of reaching one million voices in support of the march.

At 23:00 Egyptian time President Mubarak announced that he did not intend to run for another term in the nex election (September 2011) and would stay in office to ensure a peaceful transition, also promising to make political reforms. Mubarak also demanded Egyptian authorities pursue "outlaws" and "investigate those who caused the security disarray." Mubarak said that peaceful protests were transformed into "unfortunate clashes, mobilised and controlled by political forces that wanted to escalate and worsen the situation". Mubarak also called upon the Egyptian parliament to change the requirements to run for president as well as limit terms of presidency, and accepted the legal charges against parliament members, meaning a great number of parliament members will be changed through the legal process. Despite this, protests continued in Tahrir Square, demanding that the president step down.

Tahrir Square during the "March of the Millions"
During the night Mubarak supporters clashed with anti-Mubarak protesters in Alexandria, with shots reportedly being fired into the air. Many of the "March of the Millions" protesters decided to sleep in Tahrir Square, with many more protesters en route to join them. By 12:00 Egyptian time, internet access (previously blocked towards the beginning of protests) was partially restored and the curfew has been eased. However, pro-Mubarak supporters continued their attacks, riding into Tahrir Square equipped with whips atop horses and camels, as well as throwing Molotov cocktails into the crowds. By 19:00 Egyptian time, 300 were reported dead. The Egyptian Museum has also been firebombed, with pro-Mubarak supporters being filmed dropping stones and firebombs from buildings onto protesters on the streets below. Security officials have also been witnessed bribing citizens to attack protesters.

President Mubarak has rejected various international calls to step aside and the upcoming February 4th has been dubbed the "Friday of Departure" by organisers calling on protesters to protest in front of the presidential Heliopolis palace and warning Mubarak that he should step down immediately and has until Friday to surrender his powers.

I'll try and update on events in Egypt but I doubt it will be daily because I don't think enough can happen in a day to get a decent sized post. So updates will probably every 2 or 3 days or whenever something really big happens.


  1. great article,im sorry for the people in Egypt

  2. I really hope they get their government straightened out.

  3. The problem is that Mubarak was holding everything together and in peace in the whole region.

    Without him there will be probably destabilisation and maybe even Egypt-Izrael war

  4. this is crazy, I hope nothing like this happens in the USA