Friday, February 4, 2011

Tahrir Square Friday Morning (Feb. 4): So far, things are peaceful

Today, Friday, February 4,  is the "Day of Departure" Protest, meaning the day protesters hope President Mubarak will resign.

So far today,  the protests in Cairo are peaceful.   I heard there was one death in the Tahrir Square last night but don't know the details of how it happened.  But as I look at the coverage on CNN now (-- I will not be in the Square today), things are peaceful.   The army is out in large numbers and are on the periphery of Tahrir Square with the anti-Mubarak protesters on the inside of the square.  The military has set up a series of checkpoints on the periphery of the square.  The CNN reporter on the ground says there are no pro-Mubarak protesters around, though another reporter from Euronews thought there may also pro-Mubarak supporters in the Square as well, but there are no clashes right now.

Protesters had hoped there would be more than one million people demonstrating today.  There are already tens of thousands of protesters in the Square.  The announcement that the military is guarding the periphery of the Square where many of the violent clashes happened in the past two days will mean a much higher turnout of Egyptians than if there were no military presence.  Also, since there are already very big crowds, this will likely mean more people will continue to flow to the Square since, as a reporter is noting right now, there is a sense in the crowd that there is safety in numbers.

I just tuned into EuroNews which had these photos of the crow already at Tahrir Square.

It's still early in the day here (2pm) and morning prayers recently finished.  There are thousands of protesters still flowing toward Tahrir Square.

The EuroNews journalist reported he could not enter the Square because the military wouldn't let him in.  He said that government intelligence people wanted to take his camera, cell phone and passport, but that did not happen.  CNN's correspondent however was reporting from inside the square.  (Perhaps he was there overnight before the numerous military checkpoints on the periphery were set up.)

The New York Times reported that Obama is discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal to have President Mubarak resign immediately.  Here's a link to that New York Times article:

President Mubarak said that if he were to resign, there would be chaos.

The new vice president said there will not be violence used against protesters, but he did urge them to go home.

Al Jazeera just reported that there are tens of thousands of anti-Mubarak protesters in the streets of Alexandria, the second largest city in Egypt.  Here are photos Al Jazeera just showed from Alexandria:

Reporters in Alexandria report that those protests are peaceful too.  They report the complete absence of the pro-Mubarak forces that had, in the past day and a half, been attacking protesters with rocks leading to much fighting.

Today may be the biggest protests since this movement began a week and a half ago.  One difference is that there will be very few foreigners in the crowds and many of the images shown on TV of the crowds will be from a distance because of the backlash yesterday against journalists.  

As I continue to watch, the crowds continue to grow.  Some journalists are estimating there are already hundreds of thousands.   The reporter is talking about how the protesters have lost their sense of fear.  My impression though is that after the last couple days, fear is still very present but the courage and determination of these masses of Egyptians is greater.  

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