Fri, Jan 28, 2011 | IsraelNationalNews | Jerusalem Post | Yedioth Ahronoth
2 killed in Egypt protests; curfew announced
Yedioth Ahronoth reports:
Egypt’s military deployed on the streets of Cairo to enforce a nighttime curfew as the sun set Friday on a day of rioting and chaos that amounted to the biggest challenge ever to authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year regime.
Flames rose up across a number of cities from burning tires and police cars. Even the ruling party headquarters in Cairo was ablaze in the outpouring of rage, bitterness and utter frustration with a regime seen as corrupt, heavy-handed and neglectful of grinding poverty that afflicts nearly half of the 80 million Egyptians.
Mass protests against the Egyptian government claimed the lives of at least two protestors Friday, the al-Jazeera network reported. According to the report, a woman was killed in the capital Cairo and another man was shot to death in the port city of Suez.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in his capacity as head of the military, announced a curfew in main cities starting from Friday after a day of unprecedented countrywide protests calling for him to step down.
“According to what some provinces witnessed in terms of riots, lawlessness, looting, destruction, attack and burning of public and private property including attacks on banks and hotels, President Hosni Mubarak decreed a curfew as a military ruler,” a state TV announcer said.
It said the curfew would take effect from Friday evening, extending from 6 pm to 7 am and the main cities were Cairo, Alexandria and Suez.
Tens of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets after the Friday prayers, demanding that President Hosni Mubarak resign after 30 years in power. In Cairo thousands called for Mubarak’s dismissal, hurled stones and dirt at the police and destroyed posters of the president.
The police, in response, used rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse the crowd, and some of ElBaradei’s supporters were beaten up with truncheons.
Egyptian protesters in Cairo chanted slogans calling for the army to support them, complaining of police violence. “Where is the army? Come and see what the police are doing to us. We want the army. We want the army,” the protesters in one area of central Cairo shouted, shortly before police fired teargas on them.
The government accused the Muslim Brotherhood of planning to exploit the youth protests for its “hidden agendas”. The Brotherhood says it is being used as a scapegoat. At least 20 of the movement’s activists were arrested on Thursday night, although it has yet to take part in the protests.
According to reports, the government is planning increasing food subsidies, but it is not clear whether such a measure would be enough to contain the civil unrest.
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ElBaradei under house arrest
Jerusalem Post reports:
Friday, police placed Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei under house arrest.
Earlier, after joining the latest round of protests, ElBaradei and his supporters were forced to hide inside a mosque while hundreds of riot police laid siege to it, firing tear gas in the streets around so no one could leave.
One of the leaders of the opposition, Ayman Nour of the “El-Ghad” movement, also sustained a head injury from a stone, said al-Jazeera.
Friday’s protests saw tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators pouring into the streets of Egypt, stoning and confronting police who fired back with rubber bullets and tear gas in the most violent and chaotic scenes yet in the challenge to President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.
Groups of thousands of protesters, some chanting “out, out, out,” gathered at different venues across Cairo, some marching toward major squares and across scenic Nile bridges. Security officials said there were protests in at least 11 of the country’s 28 provinces.
The protesters have said they are emboldened by the uprising in Tunisia, another north African Arab nation. Egypt is Washington’s closest Arab ally, but Mubarak may be losing US support. The Obama administration has publicly counseled Mubarak to introduce reforms and refrain from using violence against the protesters.
US President Barack Obama said Thursday the anti-government protests filling the streets show the frustrations of Egypt’s citizens.
“It is very important that people have mechanisms in order to express their grievances,” Obama said.
Authorities appeared to have disrupted social networking sites, used as an organizing tool by protesters, throughout the week. Those disruptions escalated overnight, when Internet and cell phone services, at least in Cairo, appeared to be largely cut off. However, the extreme measures did not prevent tens of thousands from flooding the streets.
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Massive Demonstrations in Egypt after Friday Prayers
Arutz Sheva reports:
The major protests follow the recent successful revolt in Tunisia. Lebanon’s Nasrallah encouraged the demonstrators to take over, but resentment of Mubarak’s plans to have his son take his place and the economic situation in Egypt are dominant factors. Demonstrators are calling on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down from power and allow open and fair elections.
Muslim Brotherhood Joins the Fray
The government crackdown is responding to the Muslim Brotherhood’s announcement on Thursday that it will join Friday’s demonstration. The Brotherhood is Egypt’s largest opposition group, and its participation gives the counter-government rallies new strength.
One Brotherhood leader told reporters on Thursday, “Tomorrow is going to be the day of the intifada.” He predicted that many of the Brotherhood’s younger members, some as young as 15, would take part in Friday’s demonstrations.
Overthrow Planned in Detail
According to a report in the Hebrew-language daily Maariv, Mubarak has reason for concern, as those organizing the demonstrations have planned his overthrow in detail. Documents spelling out how to revolt against the administration reportedly include satellite images of strategic sites and major intersections.
The documents, given to activist leaders, also include instructions on how to seize Mubarak’s presidential palace, television and radio stations, and the seats of local government throughout the country, according to the report.
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