Egypt’s “Day of Departure”: A Statement from the “Youth Protesting in Midan al-Tahrir”
And so begins the Day of Departure, the mass demonstration called by the Youth of Tahrir Square for after Friday prayers.
With the attacks and arrests of journalists, there’s considerable fear that the regime plans a brutal crackdown now that cameras can’t show the world what is happening.
Al Jazeera English is able to broadcast live from the square and reports that the square is fully packed with more people trying to stream in. Their liveblog is also reporting:
1.45pm: Amr Moussa, the Arab league chief, is attending the rally in Tahrir Square.
1:30pm: About 3,000 people demonstrate in support of President Mubarak in the Mohandiseen district in Giza, adjacent to Cairo…
12:53pm: Prayers are over and the masses, hundred thousands of people, are chanting “We won’t go until he leaves”.
Carnival atomosphere in Tahrir square & surrounding areas & streets. Hundreds of thousands, talking, chatting, singing & shouting slogans. Amr Moussa, the head of the Arabic Leage & Egypt’s ex Foreign minister joined protesters in Tahrir square now. Not sure what more Mubarak needs to hear Egyptians.
The imam who led Friday’s prayer in Tahrir Square called on protesters, who continued to gather for the eleventh day, to maintain their resolve until they achieve their goal of ousting President Hosni Mubarak.
The imam, whose name is unknown, described what he called the “white revolution” as an Egyptian movement that includes both Muslim and Christians.
The revolution does not have a religious goal, said the imam, who added that Egyptians of all backgrounds are joining in. “They want us to be a humiliated people, an quiescent people, and an oppressed people… But no, and 1000 nos,” he said.
“Egypt taught the world dignity and democracy,” the preacher said. He called for freedom, democracy, regime change, the release of detainees and the abolition of Emergency Law.
We’ve heard over the past week from Mubarak and Suleiman and now of Obama and Clinton’s scheme to support Suleiman in a last ditch attempt to avoid real democracy. We’ve seen the amazing uprising the students have grown but we’ve heard from them only in small clips so let’s begin today with a statement they circulated yesterday.
GorillasGuides thas published it here. [Correction to earlier: The translation below was provided by the protesters in Egypt. The Guides team has reviewed it and then provided it to us. Thanks to markfromireland and Abdullah from GorillasGuides for the clarification.]
[after the jump, along with more] :
Declaration: Egyptian Youth Protesting in Midan al-Tahrir (Tahrir Square).
The Promises of the President and Events of Wednesday February 2
We have been protesting since January 25 and conducting a sit-in in Tahrir (Liberation) Square. We strongly condemn the brutal attack that was undertaken by the mercenaries of the national party against us at the center of our sit-in on Wednesday February 2 under the pretenses of a demonstration in support of President Mubarak and this aggression continues on Thursday February 3. We are saddened by the participation of some of Egypt’s youth with the government thugs and criminals whom the National Party is used to employing in elections. The regime unleashed them against us after the regime and its media spread many lies about our goals, which are in support of a change in the political regime, to guarantee to us and to all citizens, freedom, dignity of life and social justice – goals also shared by these young people. Thus, we would like to clarify the following:
First, we are a group of young people from Egypt – Muslims and Christians; the overwhelming majority of us do not belong to political parties nor have we been involved in political activities before. Our movement includes old people and children, peasants, laborers and professionals, students and workers and pensioners. Our movement cannot be characterized as driven or moved by a minority given the millions who responded to the call for bringing down the regime. They joined this call last Tuesday in Cairo and in the governorates, in an event in which not one single incident of violence was witnessed nor any attack on property or harassment of anyone by anyone.
Second, our movement is accused of being funded from outside, with support provided by the United States. It is also said that the movement has been instigated by Hamas, and that it is under the leadership and organization of the president of the National Society for Change, Mohammed Elbaradei. Finally, and not finally, it is said that the movement is directed by the Muslim Brotherhood. The listing of these multiple accusations in this way in and of itself shows how false they are. The protestors are all Egyptians. Their goals are patriotic, clear and specific. The protestors have neither foreign weapons nor equipment as the instigators claim. The broad response of the people to the movement reveals that the movement’s goals are the same goals of the Egyptian masses in general, and not the goals of particular faction or foreign entity.
Third, the regime and its media cast false blame upon us for the tensions and instability that you have seen in the streets of Egypt in the previous days and, thus, blame the young people who are demonstrating for the damages inflected upon our interests, the interests of our nation, and the security of us all. It is not the peaceful protestors who let the criminals out of prison to create a situation of thievery and looting in the streets of Egypt. It is not the protestors who imposed a curfew that starts at 3:00PM, stopping work at banks, bakeries and fuel stations. When the protestors organized their demonstrations of millions they came out in the best form, it was well organized, and the demonstrations ended peacefully. The protestors are not the ones who killed 300 people, some of them with live bullets. Nor did they injure more than a thousand people in the previous days.
Fourth, President Mubarak came out on Tuesday to announce that he would not run in the next presidential elections, and that he would amend articles in the constitution, and begin dialogue with the opposition. The official media attacked us when we refused his “concessions” and we decided to continue our movement. Our demand that Mubarak must leave immediately is not personal. It is based upon clear reasons including:
Promising not to run is not a new thing, Mubarak promised when he became a president in 1981 that he would not serve as president for more than two terms, but he stayed in power for more than 30 years. The speech did not put forth any guarantees that his son Gamal will not run for office. Gamal is still a member of the ruling party and can nominate himself in an election that does not proceed under judicial supervision since the speech did not mention amending article 88 of the constitution. Furthermore, the speech deemed our movement a conspiracy waged by forces that work against the interest of the country, as if agreeing to the demands of the people is a dishonor and disgrace. As for starting a dialogue with the opposition – how many dialogues did the regime claim it would start with the opposition in previous years, that ended with Mubarak’s State proceeding in the path of the narrow interests of the entities that control the state.
The events that happened on Wednesday validate our position. While the president was offering promises in his speech, the leaders of his regime were arranging with thugs to plot the brutal attack in Tahrir Square using machetes, knife, and fire bombs. They were accompanied by members of the ruling party who used fire arms against peaceful demonstrators who were surrounded in Tahrir Square. This attack resulted in the death of at least seven people and wounded hundreds of people, some of them with serious injuries, with the aim of ending our national popular movement and keeping the status quo.
Our movement is Egyptian – Our movement is legitimate – Our movement is ongoing
Young people from a sit-in in Tahrir Square
UPDATE 10 AM EST – So far there are only small pro-Mubarak gangs appearing and the army seems to be intervening to keep them away from Tahrir.
Al Masry reports from across Egypt:
3:00: 600,000 anti-Mubarak protesters across Alexandria.
2:14: Anti-Mubarak protests spread to 28 of Egypt’s 29 governorates, size of protests varies.
2:00: 20,000 protesters call for Mubarak to step down in Luxor (700km south of Cairo).
1:45: Witnesses say Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa has joined demonstrators in Tahrir Square calling for Mubarak to go.
1:42: 40,000 protesters in the Upper Egyptian city of Beni Suef (90km south of Cairo) call for Mubarak to step down.
1:30: At least 80,000 demonstrators in Zagazig, Sharqiya (140km north of Cairo) call for Mubarak to be brought to trial.
1:30: At least 40,000 protesters call for Mubarak to immediately step down in his home governorate of Minoufiya (110km north of Cairo).
1:12PM: At least 50,000 protesters demonstrate in front of Leader Ibrahim Mosque in Alexandria demanding President Hosni Mubarak step down.
Al Jazeera has been attacked:
3:51pm Al Jazeera issues a statement condeming the “gangs of thugs” that stormed their office in Cairo. The office has been burned along with the equipment inside it.
[Correction: Note correction to source of translation of the student’s statement above]
We will be updating throughout today’s events in Egypt. Al Jazeera English again has live video available streaming here (see at top).