Thursday, February 10, 2011

17th Day of Protests in Cairo

Today is Thursday, February 10, the 17th day of the protests in Cairo.
Thousands have been in Tahrir Square throughout the night and today.  Here is a photo from the TV of the Square from this morning.

One TV station said some protesters were putting together a transition plan that would include a council of presidents composed of three people including one person from the army and one judge.  That council would have authority over the country and would be in charge of setting up elections.  Parliament would be dissolved.  During the transition period there would be a temporary constitution while experts work on a new constitution that would then be put before the people in about a year.
TV journalists report that Doctors and Lawyers Unions have joined the thousands of protesters still in Cairo's Tahrir Square.  Reportedly 3,000 lawyers joined those in the Square.   

Meanwhile, journalists report that protesters in Tahrir Square are preventing 'business as usual' from occurring in that area where one of the biggest government buildings, known as the Mugamma, is located.  The "Mugamma", which literally means "combined", is the place where a vast amount of government paperwork is done.  It is a 20 story building with thousands of offices that handle everything from marriage licenses, drivers licenses, work permits, visas, and countless other types of business documents.  There are reportedly 14 government departments housed here and 18,000 people work there.  (See more details from this online article from the Mail Guardian:  

Here is a photo of the Mugamma (before the protests happened).  The building is right in the center of Tahrir Square.

I read an article in the BBC online saying the protesters had linked arms and formed a human chain around the Mugamma to stop anyone from entering to continue government business.  There is a short video on this topic in the BBC article at this link:

Here are some still photos from a video posted yesterday, February 9, showing that protesters' human chain prevented workers from entering the Mugamma yesterday so government offices here remain closed.  

Below is a photo of the government workers who tried to enter the Mugamma this morning, but instead left because of the protester line.

The full video can be viewed at this link:

There are also still protests 24 hours a day at the Parliament building in Cairo.  Here are a couple photos of the protesters at the Parliament.

It was also reported that large protests have occurred in other parts of Egypt such as Port Said (a city near the Suez Canal, about an hour or two outside of Cairo).  There were a number of government buildings set afire today in Port Said.    Here's a photo of a building taken today in Port Said.

A Washington Post article discussed how labor unions were contributing to the unrest in Egypt:

  • 2,500 textile and steel workers in Suez, following 6,000 workers going on the strike the day before in the canal zone
  • In the Nile Delta, 1,500 nurses had a sit-in in a hospital, 800 bottling plant workers went on strike and 2,000 steel factory workers went on strike.
  • 24,000 Textile workers were scheduled to go on strike today, Thursday, (which they did). 
If you'd like to read the Washington Post article, here is the link:

The labor unions have not affiliated themselves with the anti-Mubarak protesters at this point.  One TV journalist said that such an affiliation occurred, it would be a powerful boost to the protesters since there are millions of workers affiliated with the unions.

In other news, the coffin of 15 year old boy killed during the protests on Friday, January 28 was carried through the streets.  The cause of death for the boy was determined to be one bullet wound to the chest.  The boy's family received his body from the hospital today and a funereal ceremony was held.  Below are photos of the coffin being carried and people mourning at the funereal.

On the international front, China has spoken out to say they think other countries should not intervene in Egypt's domestic affairs and Israel expressed their preference of dealing with Egypt's current Vice-President Suleiman in the future.  (See photos below.)   This announcement from Israel is not likely to be well-received since Israel is not popular with the vast majority of Egyptians.

Meanwhile, the air is thick with anticipation and tension tonight for many reasons:

Protesters are reportedly calling for a 20 million person march countrywide tomorrow.   It was rumored that the curfew (which had been 8pm) was moved up to 4pm today because of the march planned for tomorrow.  In our neighborhood, we heard the rumblings of tanks a few times, which I assume meant tanks are moving to new locations, perhaps in anticipation of the protests tomorrow.

VP Omar Suleiman warned that the protests won't be tolerated too much longer, saying there could be a military coup if things continue too much longer.

Plus, just recently, there has been an announcement that President Mubarak will be making a statement later this evening.  Tahrir Square is packed and is charged with excitement.  

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