(7 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
Al Jazeera has a Live Blog for Feb 8
As you can see we now have the live feed from Al Jazeera English.
It was a joyous day in the Tahrir Square with the news of the release of Google executive, Wael Ghoneim, Middle East marketing manager for Google, who was arrested on January 27 by police. Ghoneim oversaw the “Arabization” of Google’s on-line services and has participated in several projects aimed at supporting Arabic Internet content. His disappearance became a cause célèbre as Google and Human Rights organizations demanded that the Egyptian government disclose his location. Sunday the newly appointed Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafik, announced that Ghoneim would be released.
Life did start to return to some normalcy as banks and shops re-opened and once again the usual traffic jams clogged the streets. Tourism continues to suffer and tanks continue to guard government buildings, embassies and other important institutions in the capital.
On sadder note, a symbolic funeral procession was held for journalist, Ahmed Mahmoud, who was shot as he filmed the clashes between protesters and riot police from his Cairo office. The UN also reported that nearly 300 people have been killed since the unrest started on January 25th and thousands more injured.
The stand off between the Mubarak regime and the protesters demanding he leave office goes into its fifteenth day with mass demonstrations planned in Cairo.
Here’s a brief video clip from al-Jazeera of the protesters now occupying the front of Egypt’s parliament building this evening.
Meanwhile, Tahrir Square appears to be covered in tents as a village springs up.
Tens of thousands pour into central Cairo seeking president Mubarak’s ouster, despite a slew of government concessions.
Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators have poured into Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square as protests against Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, entered their 15th day despite a slew of concessions announced by the government.
Tens of thousands of protesters have also come out on the streets in Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city.
There were also reports of a protest outside the parliament building in the capital. Witnesses said protesters had pitched a tent in front of the building and are likely to stay there.
According to Hoda Abdel-Hamid, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in the Egyptian capital, the crowd at Tahrir Square grew rapidly on Tuesday afternoon, with many first-timers joining protesters seeking Mubarak’s immediate ouster.
Google executive Wael Ghonim speaks after release from Egyptian custody, sparking outpouring of support from protesters.
Egyptian anti-government protesters have welcomed the release of a Google executive who disappeared in Cairo last month after playing a key role in helping demonstrators organise.
Wael Ghonim was released on Monday by Egyptian authorities, sparking a fast and explosive response from supporters, bloggers and pro-democracy activists on the internet.
Ghonim’s release came nearly two weeks after he was reported missing on January 28 during protests against Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
“Freedom is a bless[ing] that deserves fighting for it,” Ghonim, Google’s head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, wrote in a message posted on his Twitter account shortly after his release.
Google executive behind protest-supporting Facebook page cheered by crowds in Cairo after being released by police
Hundreds of thousands of protesters pack Tahrir Square in Cairo and reject concessions on transfer of power in September
In the most disturbing development in days, during a private meeting today vice president Omar Suleiman warned of a coup “to protect Egypt” – the Associated Press has a piece reporting further details of Suleiman’s hostile comments:
Vice President Omar Suleiman warned Tuesday that “we can’t put up with” continued protests in Tahrir for a long time, saying the crisis must be ended as soon as possible in a sharply worded sign of increasing regime impatience with 16 days of mass demonstrations.
Suleiman said there will be “no ending of the regime” and no immediate departure for President Hosni Mubarak, according to the state news agency MENA, reporting on a meeting between the vice president and the heads of state and independent newspapers.
He told them the regime wants dialogue to resolve protesters’ demands for democratic reform, adding in a veiled warning, “We don’t want to deal with Egyptian society with police tools.”
At one point in the roundtable meeting, Suleiman warned that the alternative to dialogue “is that a coup happens, which would mean uncalculated and hasty steps, including lots of irrationalities. We don’t want to reach that point, to protect Egypt.”
Pressed by the editors to explain the comment, he said he did not mean a military coup but that “a force that is unprepared for rule” could overturn state institutions, said Amr Khafagi, editor-in-chief of the privately-owned Shorouk daily, who attended the briefing. “He doesn’t mean it in the classical way.”
“The presence of the protesters in Tahrir Square and some satellite stations insulting Egypt and belittling it makes citizens hesitant to go to work,” he said. We can’t put up with this for a long time, and this crisis must be ended as soon as possible.
He warned that calls by some protesters for a campaign of civil disobedience are “very dangerous for society and we can’t put up with this at all.”
The comments sound like a worrying development after the calm of recent days. This may be Suleiman’s private face: no surrender. I bet he didn’t mention any of that in his phone chat with Joe Biden earlier today.
President Bashar al-Assad promises elections and press freedom after seeing groundswell of protest across Arab world
Sounds like someone is getting nervous.
Admission from François Fillon comes as French ministers’ links with unpopular Middle East regimes come under scrutiny
Another Sarkozy lackie
On Monday night, February 7, Tahrir Square took on a festival atmosphere, with a man playing an acoustic guitar to a crowd of hundreds.
Rumors are also running rampant from a report in Der Speigel, a German newspaper, that Mubarak could be going there for a “medical check-up”. he has been there twice for medical reasons.
The story behind what triggered the protests
Ex-minister suspected behind Alex church bombing
Egypt’s general prosecutor on Monday opened probe on former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly’s reported role in the New Year’s Eve bombing of al-Qiddissin Church in Alexandria in which 24 people were killed, an Egyptian lawyer told Al Arabiya.
Laywer Ramzi Mamdouh said he had presented a proclamation to Egyptian prosecutor Abd al-Majid Mahmud to investigate news media reports suggesting that the former interior ministry had masterminded the deadly church attack with the intent to blame it on Islamists, escalate government crackdown on them, and gain increased western support for the regime.
Mahmud said the information contained in some reports were “serious.”
Coptic lawyer Mamdouh Ramzy had filed on Monday a complaint to General Prosecutor Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud accusing former minister Habib El-Adly of organizing “militias of security personnel, former inmates and members of extremists organizations” that were responsible for bombing of the Church of Two Saints in Alexandria.
Vice President Omar Suleiman of Egypt says he does not think it is time to lift the 30-year-old emergency law that has been used to suppress and imprison opposition leaders. He does not think President Hosni Mubarak needs to resign before his term ends in September. And he does not think his country is yet ready for democracy. . . . .
After two weeks of recalibrated messages and efforts to keep up with a rapidly evolving situation, the Obama administration is still trying to balance support for some of the basic aspirations for change in Egypt with its concern that the pro-democracy movement could be “hijacked,” as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton put it, if change were to come too quickly.
The result has been to feed a perception, on the streets of Cairo and elsewhere, that the United States, for now at least, is putting stability ahead of democratic ideals, and leaving hopes of nurturing peaceful, gradual change in large part in the hands of Egyptian officials – starting with Mr. Suleiman – who have every reason to slow the process.
Faced with questions about Mr. Suleiman’s views, expressed in a series of interviews in recent days, the White House on Monday called them unacceptable.
Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun is the country’s oldest and largest Islamic organisation.
Another interesting article from the NYT Magazine from this weekend chronicles the arrest, detention and escape from a prison outside of Cairo of lawyer, Sobhi Saleh, the former secretary general of the Muslim Brotherhood’s parliamentary group, and 33 other members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
We look at the differences between the two uprisings and how these might shape the future of the two countries.
Tehran – With democracy tremors rocking the Arab world, Iran’s opposition has challenged its hard-line leaders to allow a peaceful demonstration – ostensibly in support of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
The request to hold a rally on Monday falls short of an open call for supporters of Iran’s “green” movement to return to the streets after more than a year, but it is the closest that Iran’s opposition has come so far to trying to join in the historic events.
We ask if the despots of the region will be able to restore their authority through bribes and belated concessions.
Washington Post Editorial: Did Ben Bernanke cause Egypt’s revolution?
Does Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, deserve the blame – or the credit, depending on your point of view – for Hosni Mubarak’s plight? Some seem to think so. Last August, Mr. Bernanke announced further Fed asset purchases known colloquially as “quantitative easing II,” or “QEII” for short. The goal was to ease monetary conditions in the United States and fuel growth. But cheaper money lowered the costs and raised the rewards of speculating on food and energy, relative to some other investments. The latest rise in commodity prices began around the time of Mr. Bernanke’s announcement; expensive food triggered unrest first in Tunisia and then in Egypt. Ergo, Mr. Bernanke undermined Mr. Mubarak – or so the argument goes.
The curfew will come into effect on Monday from 8 PM running until 6 AM the next day, according to to state-run television
Frank Wisner, Obama special envoy to Egypt, declared Saturday during a security conference in Munich that “Mubarak must stay in office in order to steer those changes through. This is an ideal moment for him to show the way forward.”
This declaration was received with surprise by pro-democracy demonstrators as it was understood as a reversal of the US diplomatic strategy. The statement was rapidly clarified by US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, who said that Wisner was speaking for himself and the White House did not endorse his remarks.