Live blog 31/1 - Egypt protests
From our headquarters in Doha, we keep you updated on all things Egypt, with reporting from Al Jazeera staff in Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez. Live Blog: Jan28 - Jan29 - Jan30 - Jan31 - Feb1 - Feb2 - Feb3
(All times are local in Egypt, GMT+2)
11:37pm Basheer Nafi, a historian, tells Al Jazeera:
My feeling is that we are witnessing a second wave of the Arab liberation movement ... In the first wave, the Arabs liberated themselves from colonial powers and foreign domiantion. I think now, the very heart of the Arab world, the backbone of the Arab world, is leading the move towards freedom and democracy and human rights.
11:28pm Tariq Ramadan tells Al Jazeera from London that he believes Obama is applying a win-win strategy for Egypt. But he says that the West should be very cautious during the last days of Mubarak's regime. Ramadan summarizes the bottom line of the protest movement: "We are expecting democracy, transparency, and freedom of expression".
11:18pm President Hosni Mubarak is still refusing to step down, amid growing calls for his resignation. Protesters continue to defy the military-imposed curfew. Thousands remain gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square and hundreds have marched through Alexandria. Egyptian State TV has actually changed its stance and is now airing much more video of the protests, as seen in this still image from our broadcast:
10:57pm One of our web producers on the ground in Cairo heard a protester named Hamza speaking to the crowd gathered at Tahrir Square say, "Long live Al Jazeera ... the Arab world is watching Egypt".
Internet access across Egypt is still shoddy according to most reports. Khadija Sharife wrote in the Huffington Post that Egyptians can still connect "via traditional phone lines using the following instructions: FDN (Free World Dial up) to access the Internet anonymously at the following number: 33172890150 with login: toto and password: toto."
We are wondering how many Egyptians are actually connecting via this old-school proxy technique.
10:38pm Amid a growing media crackdown, one of our Al Jazeera correspondents on the ground in Egypt just tweeted:
Difficult day for aljazeera crew. it was hard to film anything. will keep trying! #jan25 #egypt
10:31pm Egypt's vice president has promised dialogue in order to push through constitutional reforms. Protesters may not be satisfied with this pledge, as preparations are being made for massive Cairo demonstrations tomorrow.
10:13pm Twitter reports from this evening say that four large screens have been installed by protesters in central Cairo to show Al Jazeera Arabic and Al Jazeera Mubasher (Live) to the crowds gathering around.
9:26pm Protesters remain camped out in Tahrir Square from a variety of political and demographic groups. Despite the insecurity and danger prevalent in Egypt's capital, an Al Jazeera correspondent on the ground says that the sense of community feels like a "giant sleepover in the square in the middle of Cairo".
9:12pm In reaction to the White House announcment, Martin Indyk at Brookings tells Al Jazeera that the bottom line for the US is a peaceful transfer of power:
But you have to read in between the lines. The White House does not want to be seen as leading the charge here - pulling the rug out from under [Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak
9:06pm The White House says that the Egyptian government must engage with its people to resolve current unrest. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says the crisis in Egypt "is not about appointments, it's about actions ... They have to address freedoms that the people of Egypt seek".
Anti-government banners in Arabic: "No, no, Omar Suleiman" and "Leave ASAP" [Dirk Wanrooij]
8:37pm A reminder to check out our special coverage on Anger in Egypt with newly updated news, blogs, videos, and more. Al Jazeera continues to provide TV and web reporting from across the embattled country.
7:35pm An Al Jazeera correspondent in Cairo has just left some updates on Twitter:
* Similar # of protesters in Tahrir Square as last night; tanks have mostly left, army presence is reduced.
* Police not redeployed yet. At Cairo/Giza interior ministries earlier, saw dozens loading up in trucks; but still not visible in many areas.
* Token numbers of police directing traffic at major intersections, but otherwise streets still controlled by army + ordinary citizens.
7:13pm Opposition groups continue to call for a "million man march" and a general strike on Tuesday to commemorate one week since the protest movement began. Meanwhile, the military has reiterated that it will not attempt to hurt protesters.
As 250,000 gathered around Cairo's Tahrir Square on Monday, President Mubarak asked his new prime minister, Ahmad Shafiq, to start talks with the opposition. It has yet to be seen whether the broad coalition of Egyptian opposition groups - students, web activists, leftists, liberals, and Islamists - will manage to come together.
6:45pm Despite severe internet service disruptions, Al Jazeera's correpsondents continue to post blog entries about Egypt's uncertainty, the disconnect between analysts and street protesters, and Cairo's critical moments.
6:05pm The clique of online activists behind several WikiLeaks revenge attacks, as well as Tunisia anti-censorship operations, has thanked Al Jazeera for its Egypt coverage. Here's some of what Anonymous said today in an open letter:
As the protests escalated, so did the amount of people across the world watching Al Jazeera. The free, 24 hour, online stream has become an invaluable tool for coverage of real time news. In addition to thanking you for providing this great resource, we would like to thank all of your reporters throughout Cairo, Suez, Alexandria, and the rest of Egypt. They demonstrated courage and passion standing amongst the protesters in the face of regime thugs and fear mongers....The ideals of freedom and human rights are sought after throughout the globe. Starting with Tunisia and spreading as far as Yemen, Jordan, and Algeria, these protests represent a historic change in the history of mankind.
5:58pm The EU is now calling for free and fair elections in Egypt. More details to come...
5:26pm In light of the Egyptian government's detention of six Al Jazeera journalists earlier today, the Middle East coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists tells Al Jazeera that the Egyptian government has not been able to control the media effectively during recent protests.
Egypt has a long and atrocious record of suppressing the media...that Egyptian state TV is showing cooking shows today is an indication of the level of denial...but frankly no one is watching Egyptian state TV...the government seems intent on shooting the messenger and blaming the victim...I urge the Egyptian authorities to learn something from Tunisia...the media blackout is not working.
5:18pm Worldwide investors continue withdrawing significant capital from Egypt amid rising unrest. Read more on the looming financial crisis affecting the country in crisis.
4:43pm: Thousands of people have gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square, ignoring a curfew that has been in place for more than an hour now.
Mubarak is still in power, and has named his new cabinet on state television, among them, Mahmoud Wagdi, who has been sworn in as the new interior minister.
4:16pm: Our correspondent tweets after being released by Egyptian security forces:
3:44pm: Egypt releases the six detained Al Jazeera journalists in Cairo.
3:21pm: Reaction to the arrest of our journalists in Cairo from US state department spokesman PJ Crowley:
We are concerned by the shutdown of #Al-Jazeera in #Egypt and arrest of its correspondents. Egypt must be open and the reporters released.
3:20pm: Two of our producers are still in Cairo tweeting and filing audio reports. One of them writes:
Six members of AJE team detained, equipment confiscated. We are still out here with access. Latest audio report http://ow.ly/3NcCu #jan25
He explains what happened in the audio report below. For all of our team's audio reporting click here.
2:40pm: Our correspondent tweets:
Unsure if arrested or about to be deported. 6 of us held at army checkpoint outside Hilton hotel. Equipment seized too. #Egypt
2:11pm BREAKING NEWS: Six Al Jazeera journalists arrested in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.
Our correspondent there just tweeted this:
4 soldiers entered room took our camera. Wr ae under military arrest #Egypt #jan25
2pm: Egyptian film star Omar Sharif, known for his role in Lawrence of Arabia, has added his voice to those calling for Hosni Mubarak to step down, Reuters reports.
"The president should have resigned," Sharif told France Inter radio from his home in Cairo. "Given that the entire Egyptian people don't want him and he's been in power for 30 years that's enough."
1:48pm: Al Jazeera's correspondent in Cairo has more on the appointment of new interior minister Mahmoud Wagdy, saying the retired police officer's last position was as head of all prison affairs in the country.
He is a well-decorated minister, who served in very high security posts in the government of Minya, our correspondent reported.
1:40pm: With the internet blackout still hindering access for most people in Egypt, a new service could help circumvent those obstacles. Now, people inside Egypt can call a number to post a "voice tweet".
Call +16504194196, +390662207294 or +97316199855 to leave a tweet and hear tweets.
1:25pm: Egypt has named a new interior minister - retired general Mahmoud Wagdi, the former head of Egypt's prisons department, sources in the country report.
12:41pm: Friends are expressing their concern for the whereabouts of Egyptian blogger Wael Ghonim, who has been missing since Thursday, Global Voices reports. It says Ghonim, head of marketing at Google's UAE office, had tweeted his intent to join the January 25 protests:
Despite all the warnings I got from my relative and friends, I'll be there on #Jan25 protests. Anyone going to be in Gam'et Dewal protest?
Ghonim was also a recent guest speaker at an Al Jazeera forum on internet freedom in Doha.
12:18pm: One of our correspondents in Cairo tweets about the hardships of being in a city "under seige":
Food prices rising v quickly now. So too petrol & phone cards. But yet to find an ATM in Cairo that has any money left #Egypt
No ATM's making life hard for all but at least we have credit cards. Most Egyptians use cash. Many feeling v much under siege #Egypt
12:14pm: Our producer in Cairo reports police redeployment appears limited so far, with civilians directing traffic and checkpoints. Curfew has been announced for 3:00 this evening with the army planning to enforce it more strictly tonight.
12pm: Military tanks are on the streets and helicopters are circling overhead as Egypt braces for another day of protests.
Our correspondent in the Zamalek neighbourhood of Cairo says he sees shops open and many citizens picking up the garbage that has been collecting on the streets in the last couple of days.
11:45am: Al Jazeera's producers in Cairo confirm that police have redeployed on the streets of the capital, as security is stepped up across the city.
Listen to the audio report below, and as a reminder you can hear all of our audio reports by clicking here.
11:20am: On a lighter note, an eight-year-old girl in Saudi Arabia has made her own plea to Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to step down.
11:11am: Efforts are underway to find those who have gone missing in Egypt's protests. Twitter users are circulating a Google docs spreadsheet with the names of those believed missing, where they were last seen and a contact reference. The document is open to all.
10:15am: This Youtube video of praying protesters being bombarded with water canons has been making the rounds on Facebook and blogs. Al Jazeera can't independently vouch for its veracity, but you can view the raw footage here:
Meanwhile, one of our other correspondents, reporting from a roundabout a few kilometres away from Tahrir said that after three nights of anarchy, looting and insecurity, people have been "greeting the police as long-lost friends".
"It's almost as if the population of Cairo is suffering from selective amnesia. We saw one small boy carrying a tray a of tea to a group of policemen. Another man got out of his car, kissed and hugged the policemen."
10am: Former US president Jimmy Carter calls the unrest in Egypt an "earth-shaking event", and says he guesses Hosni Mubarak "will have to leave", the US Ledger-Enquirer reports.
“This is the most profound situation in the Middle East since I left office,” Carter told a crowd of 300 people at a church in the US state of Georgia, adding that he has been watching the events unfold via Al Jazeera's coverage online.
9:19am: Huge protest planned in Egypt: opposition movement calls for a million people demonstration on Tuesday in bid to topple Mubarak.
9:12am: Two of Al Jazeera's producers have managed to find a reliable internet connection out of Cairo, where they're keeping us updated with tweets.
"Back up with internet this morning in Cairo. Heavy smog over the city, don't know if fires have anything to do with it. Army blocked off Tahrir Square with barbed wire & restricting access. Tank on busy 6th of October bridge leaves one lane open," one writes.
The other tweets:
"Tahrir Square closed this morning, barbed wire wrapped around the area; army officer told me it'll be shut all day/night. Banks closed too, more tanks on the street, police also being redeployed. Egyptian gov't trying to reassert itself."
8:45am: Israel urges the world to tone down Mubarak criticism amid Egypt unrest to preserve stability in the region, the Haaretz newspaper reports, citing senior Israeli officials.
Senior Israeli officials ... said that on Saturday night the Foreign Ministry issued a directive to around a dozen key embassies in the United States, Canada, China, Russia and several European countries. The ambassadors were told to stress to their host countries the importance of Egypt's stability. In a special cable, they were told to get this word out as soon as possible, the paper reports.
8:00am: The state-imposed curfew in Egypt is lifted. Al Jazeera's correspondent in Cairo reports the military is setting up roadblocks around the capital.
7:45am: Al Jazeera's Imran Garda blogs about the apparent "templates for responding to the excesses of a US ally": When an ally mows down peaceful protesters in the streets calling for change, here is the template:
“We continue to monitor the situation and are very concerned about recent events in ______. We call for restraint on both sides. We urge President/Prime Minister/King ______ to facilitate dialogue and provide concrete steps towards a peaceful resolution.”
6:20am: NPR's All Things Considered reports that a Tunisian poem has become a rallying cry in both Tunisia and Egypt. The poem, as read by an Al Jazeera journalist, is among the most famous works of an early 20th century Tunisian poet named Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi.
Click here to listen to 'To the Tyrants of the World' on NPR.
6:10am: We're not naming our reporters in Egypt for safety and security reasons. But one of our correspondents sent in this update from the streets of Cairo early on Monday, where she said about 200 people haven't budged from the city's central Tahrir square.
"They've been chanting throughout the evening. There've been poetry readings. It seems as if they're saying 'It's early in the morning but we're here to stay. We're not going anywhere'."
She said that seems to be the message of the military as well, which has been repositioning its forces across the roads. Our correspondent said there are signs of police also trickling back onto the streets.
5:45am: Chasing Gamal Mubarak: The Egyptian president's younger son is thought to have fled to London after protests began in Egypt. As Al Jazeera's Paul Brennan reports from London, Gamal hasn't been seen there, but he likely would not be welcome if he did appear:
5:30am: The HuffingtonPost.com reports: Canadian television viewers looking for in-depth coverage of Egypt have the option of tuning into Al Jazeera English. Many US viewers, however, can not.
5:15am Protesters are still camped out in central Cairo. "The army has to choose between Egypt and Mubarak," one banner reads in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where demonstrators share food with soldiers.
12:48am New York-based Palestinian-American writer Ismail Khalidi makes an apt social media joke on Twitter: #U.S. and #Israel change relationship status with #Egypt to "It's complicated" on facebook.
12:40am Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian journalist, tells Al Jazeera: "What has happened in Egypt is a turning point in our history...the more [President Mubarak] insists on clinging to power, the more Egyptians will go out into the street and say 'we want you to go'".
12:23am The atmosphere in central Cairo remains chaotic, according to a tweet from one of the Al Jazeera correspondents in Cairo:
Tense in Tahrir Square tonight. Random gunfire nearby; some people in the square are blaming the army for it, verbally confronting soldiers.
12:14am President Mubarak tells his new prime minister, Ahmad Shafiq to keep government subsidies and cut prices.
The above photo from Tahrir Square depicting a banner with Hosni Mubarak and an "EXIT" sign is from Reuters.