In Cairo, Egypt, a street-eye view on a day of 'revolution' and high hopes
Cairo witnessed extraordinary scenes of protest today. One Egyptian demonstrator consoled a sobbing young policeman, saying, 'You are one of us now.'
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak responded to the massive uprising that swept Egypt Friday, breaking his silence to announce he had dissolved the government but that he would not step down. The president said he understands the frustrations and aspirations of the people, and said that protests were possible only because of the increased freedom he had given the people.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
But he criticized the protesters for unleashing chaos and said the path to reform is through national dialogue, adding that his government was committed to reform.
"I have a firm belief and conviction that we will continue our economic, political, and social reforms," Mr. Mubarak said, echoing a trio of concerns voiced earlier by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. "May God save Egypt, its people, [may He] guide our steps, and may peace be upon you all."
But his televised address is unlikely to appease the protesters who refused to back down as they poured into streets on Friday and clashed with police, resulting in at least 1,000 wounded and 11 dead.
They finally unleashed the anger they had held inside for three decades as Mubarak presided over an increasingly oppressive and unpopular regime, and they were clear about one thing: they want Mubarak out.
As Friday drew to a close, Tahrir Square in Cairo’s downtown area resembled a war zone. Police cars lay overturned and burning. A blaze at the headquarters of the president’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) sent billows of dark smoke into the night sky.
The smoke mingled with the tear gas police shot at protesters, forming a dense cloud over the square. Youths darted through it to pull down fences and topple police structures, dragging them into the street to form barricades.
'Our freedom is near'
The protesters have accomplished the unthinkable toward a regime that rules with the backing of a huge security apparatus: they rose up, overwhelmed the police, and took power into their hands.
The incredible scenes in Cairo, unimaginable a month ago, underlined that the demonstrations have crossed a line. The people have gone from believing that revolution is possible, thanks to Tunisia, to believing that it is imminent – and they say they won’t leave the streets without achieving some sort of change.
“We feel our freedom is near,” says Ahmed Satar in Tahrir Square Friday evening as he watched people cheer the arrival of Army vehicles. “People have started to wake up. No one can stop them anymore.”