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Egypt stocks down, protester morale up as they prepare for Friday

By Staff writer / January 27, 2011

Egypt's benchmark stock index plunged as much as 10 percent today, amid wild rumors that businessmen close to President Hosni Mubarak were preparing to flee the country and as protesters vowed to take to the streets once again in large numbers following afternoon prayers tomorrow.

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Small groups of protesters clashed with police in Cairo and in Suez, the port city along the strategic canal that links the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, demonstrators torched a police post, furious at the killings and arrests of demonstrators earlier in the week, Al Jazeera reports. Today appears to have been far calmer than Tuesday and Wednesday, but the simple fact that protesters have maintained a presence on the streets in face of a strong government crackdown has put them in uncharted territory. Monitor Correspondent Kristen Chick captured the mood among demonstrators in this piece from yesterday:

"This is Egyptian democracy!” shouted one young man, pointing at a bandage on his forehead from a wound he suffered when police beat him at Tuesday’s protest. “I came out again today to say we want freedom for our country. I will come tomorrow. If it takes a year, I will stay for a year. We will die in the streets if we have to.”

Friday and Saturday are the weekly holidays in Egypt and demonstrators are vowing a massive turnout after noon prayers tomorrow. Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency who has emerged in the past year as a campaigner for political reform in Egypt, told Reuters he was returning to Egypt from his home in Vienna today and that he planned to join Friday's protests.


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