Day 5 of the Egyptian pro-democracy uprising against the 30-year rule of Pres. Hosni Mubarak saw massive crowds of tens of thousands marching through Cairo, Alexandria and other cities across the country. While many images show demonstrators standing with or even riding joyously with military personnel on security vehicles, there were clashes near the Interior Ministry, where government snipers killed at least 12 demonstrators.
At 3:00 am Cairo time, CNN reported that in the El Fayum district, south of the capital, some 1,000 prisoners staged an uprising, overcame prison guards, firing live ammunition, with many escaping into the surrounding community. At the time of this writing, it is unclear whether that situation has been brought under control, but there are unconfirmed reports of deaths associated with the prison break. The Fayum prison has been associated with political detentions and the jailing of journalists.
Reports from the area south of Cairo say police shot and killed 17 people attempting to take control of several police stations. Reports regarding the nature of Pres. Hosni Mubarak’s power suggest he may have more brute force at his disposal in the police, and that the military, which is more widely respected by the people, may begin to stand in to stop the police from attacking demonstrators.
Demonstrators cheered in the streets today, as more citizens joined the protests. Women were reported to have been more of a presence today, as crowds seemed to see safety in numbers. Soldiers refrained from attacking demonstrators in most places, and in many cases appeared to be celebrating with demonstrators who were calling for Mubarak’s ouster.
On the fifth day of the ongoing “people power” uprising in Egypt, thousands of demonstrators massed in cities across the world to support the protest movement and to call for the resignation of Pres. Hosni Mubarak. In New York, Washington, San Francisco and elsewhere in the United States, thousands demonstrated, calling on the US government to end its support for the Egyptian government.
At least 100 people are reported killed in the regime’s crackdown on the demonstrations, and there are now widespread calls from across the world, including from citizens of allied nations, like the United States, for governments to withdraw support for the regime of Hosni Mubarak. Demonstrators are now insisting the protests will continue, and will spread, until Mubarak resigns and free and fair elections are called.
News media have been detailing the many reports about the activities of the Mubarak regime, including reports of widespread torture, arbitrary arrests, the use of force against opposition parties. Today, TV and Internet sources in the west and across the Arab world showed Egyptians explaining that Mubarak himself is reviled, but that the people no longer fear him; they are determined to end his rule.
The leadership of the US government has been closely monitoring events across Egypt since the “Days of Rage” began on Tuesday. Policy officials have reportedly been working non-stop to not only keep track of what is transpiring but also to craft a responsible and democratic response from the US administration. Pres. Obama personally said to Mubarak that he must implement major democratic reforms and respect the will of the people.
For three days straight, as the Cairo crisis gathered momentum, they had hardly left their desks. Now, huddled in the big office of their boss—one of the administration policy-makers trying to calibrate the U.S. response to the unfolding drama—the advisers watched Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s first statement. Two television sets were running, one showing CNN and the other a satellite feed from Al Jazeera. Someone had popped popcorn in a microwave. In the old days, their boss reflected, he would have ordered in pizza, but since 9/11 the ever-expanding security precautions had shut down deliveries of take-out.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will appear on five separate political shows on Sunday to explain the American response and to call for a non-violent and democratic process. Both the Obama administration and the US Congress are planning a “review” of more than $1 billion in aid to Egypt; a negotiation surrounding that aid could help to determine how long Mubarak fights to hold onto power.
Other nations in the region are wary of the Egyptian uprising: Saudi Arabia is saying the protests are the work of “infiltrators”, while Syria has reportedly restricted access to online services, thousands demonstrating in Jordan, and a new movement calling for protests against the Khartoum government in Sudan.
Today, there were incidents of violent, mass looting in Alexandria. Peaceful demonstrators denounced the looting, while homeowners were reported to be protecting their homes with kitchen knives and other weapons. In Cairo, international journalists were able to broadcast interviews with some demonstrators, ordinary men and women from across the socio-economic fabric of Egyptian society, declaring their pride in the movement, their disdain for the Mubarak government and their determination to defy a nationwide curfew.
Sunday will be Day 6 of the protests, and it is expected there may be a less violent atmosphere, if the military keeps the more hardline police forces at a distance from demonstrators. As Mubarak names his new top deputies, it remains unclear whether he will be able to hold onto control of the military.
UPDATE, 11:52 pm EST: The Guardian newspaper has published a detailed interactive map showing the specific events reported from across Egypt. In Suez, it was reported that two soldiers were facing charges for refusing to fire live ammunition at demonstrators. The map also appears to confirm the Telegraph report that Hosni Mubarak is seeking refuge in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.
There were protests in every corner of the country, from Suez to Al-Arish, Ismaila to Mansura, Alexandria in the northwest of the Nile Delta to Assiut and Minya in the southern region of the Egyptian Nile basin. Numerous sources suggest Mubarak plans to “weather the storm” and that his personal security detail is treating all those around him with suspicion, trying to keep him at as great a distance as possible from the unrest.
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