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Live blog Feb 4 - Egypt protests

From our headquarters in Doha, we keep you updated on all things Egypt, with reporting from Al Jazeera staff in Cairo and Alexandria.
Last modified: 4 Feb 2011 00:56

From our headquarters in Doha, we keep you updated on all things Egypt, with reporting from Al Jazeera staff in Cairo and Alexandria.  Live Blog: Jan28 - Jan29 - Jan30 - Jan31 - Feb1 - Feb2 - Feb3 - Feb4 - Feb5

The Battle for Egypt - AJE Live Stream - Timeline - Photo Gallery - AJE Tweets - AJE Audio Blogs 

(All times are local in Egypt, GMT+2)

 

Follow our live blog for February 5 on this link 

11:36pm Amid cries for Mubarak's immediate departure, demonstators - led by a guitarist off camera - break into song during the "Friday of Departure". Al Jazeera cannot verify the authenticity of any Youtube videos.

 

Translation: Let's make Mubarak hear our voices. We all, one hand, requested one thing, leave leave leave ... Down Down Hosni Mubarak, Down Down Hosni Mubarak ... The people want to dismantle the regime .... He is to go, we are not going ... He is to go, we won't leave ... We all, one hand, ask one thing, leave leave.

11:09pm The US Embassy in Cairo sent this statement to Al Jazeera. The video in question is at the bottom of this page - see 2:49am: 

We have seen a video that alleges a US embassy vehicle was involved in a hit and run incident that injured dozens in Cairo. We are certain that no embassy employees or diplomats were involved in this incident. On January 28, however, a number of our US Embassy vehicles were stolen. Since these vehicles were stolen, we have heard reports of their use in violent and criminal acts. If true, we deplore these acts and the perpetrators.

11:05pm A popular Youtube video that is said to feature Asmaa Mahfouz, a girl credited with helping to start the pro-democracy protests. The video was apparently taken on January 18, but Al Jazeera cannot verify the authenticity of it.

11:02pm Obama condemned the violence in Cairo, saying that time for transition to new rule "is now". He said that the key question Mubarak should be asking himself is how he can leave behind a legacy that allows for an orderly transition for his country.

He also urged Mubarak to heed the call of the Egyptian people for an orderly transition of power, saying the country could not go back to the "old ways."

"Mubarak should listen" to protestors calling for him to quit immediately, Obama said, but he did not explicitly call on him to go now.

 

10:56pm Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud, 36, an Egyptian reporter shot during clashes earlier this week has died of his wounds. Mahmoud is the first reported journalist death in 11 days of turmoil.

He was taking pictures of clashes on the streets from the balcony of his home, not far from central Tahrir Square when he was "shot by a sniper" four days ago. State-run newspaper Al-Ahram says in a report on its website that he died today in hospital.

10:37pm A collection of Al Jazeera's most powerful images from today's protests against Mubarak:

10:30pm Some key developments in Egypt from today:

Rashid Mohamed Rashid, the former Trade Minister, is being investigated over the alleged theft of public money. He has been banned from leaving the country and his assets have been frozen. 

Samir Radwan, finance minister, says Egypt has suffered huge economic losses since the protests began. So far, one million tourists have left the country.

Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, Egyptian defence minister, visited pro-democracy demonstators in Tahrir Square to try to convince them to end their protest.

 

10:26pm Ahmed, a pro-democracy protester in Cairo's Tahrir Square, speaks to Al Jazeera about the injuries that he has recieved while demonstrating, and who he wants to see in government.

10:24pm President Obama live on Al Jazeera now from Washington DC - click here to watch: http://aje.me/ajelive

10:13pm The Washington Post puts up an interesting article about Al Jazeera's coverage of the developments in Egypt, as well as the newly launched 'Demand Al Jazeera in the USA' campaign.

10:04pm Pictures of protesters sent through to Al Jazeera reflect what some see as the importance of social media for organising the pro-democracy protests.

9:51pm Wael Abbas, a pro-democracy activist and blogger, tells Al Jazeera that the protesters have no need for leadership. He is outside Liberation Square (Tahrir).

There is no need for leadership, people are organising themselves.People already know what there demands are, they don't need someone to tell them what to do.

9:46pm Video clip on Youtube showing protests in the Egyptian city of Mansoura, some 120km from Cairo.  Al Jazeera cannot verify the authenticity of the video.

9:39pm White House says it's working with the US embassy in Cairo on getting American journalists who've been beaten or detained out of Egypt.

9:16pm Robert Gibbs, White House press secretary, speaking live on Al Jazeera now - click here to watch: http://aje.me/ajelive

Our main message, besides restrain and non-violence, is as the president said - the government of Egypt must undertake toward an orderly transition that gets us to free and fair elections...

9:14pm Isolated clashes reported in Cairo away from Liberation Square (Tahrir) - more updates to follow

9:05pm We once again experienced some technical difficulties with our blog, but back up and running now - stay tuned for latest updates from Cairo and Alexandria.

8:05pm Al Jazeera's correspondent reporting from Liberation Square says the protesters morale is not flagging, and that they consider the hardships that they are facing "the price of freedom".

7:58pm Tens of thousands of people are protesting against Mubarak in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria:

7:49pm Over 100 people protested outside the Egyptian Embassy in Tunis today. They were chanting anti-Mubarak slogans. The mood was intensified when Rached Ghannouchi, the Al Nahda leader, made a brief appearance to show his solidarity.

7:27pm Protester in Cairo told Al Jazeera that demonstrators would continue protesting until Mubarak steps down.

It's either death, or freedom

7:18pm Hani Iman, one of the founders of the Kefaya movement and part of the Egyptian Movement for Change, speaking live on Al Jazeera. Click here to watch: http://aje.me/ajelive

7:06pm Dr. Hamdy El Sayeed, head of the Egyptian Physicians Syndicate, complains on Nile TV against the arrest of the Muslim Brotherhood journalists.

He says that the prime minister and vice president have called for dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood, but arresting their journalists at the same time.

El Sayeed is a said to be a respected personality in Egypt, but is not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

6:57pm Picture of a "Pyramid of democracy" that was taken at the solidarity protest at the Egyptian embassy in Pretoria, South Africa. (Source)

6:53pm Al Jazeera's reporter says that pro-democracy protesters have set up several layers of barricades between themselves and the Mubarak-loyalists. 

They are apparently using a code, which involves banging on the metal barricades, when they notice trouble heading their way - others then gather and form a human cordon behind the barricade.

6:32pm Amir Hamzawy, of the Carnegie Middle East Centre, says he met prime minister Ahmed Shafiand and vice president Omar Suleiman. Hamzawy tells Al Jazeera that Mubarak is likely to stay till September as an honory president and based on his conversations with youth, this might be acceptable to protesters. 

6:05pm Al Jazeera continues to bring you the latest from Cairo and Alexandria. Crowds continue to defy the curfew.

6:01pm Media in Montenegro is reporting that Hosni Mubarak may find exile in their country, and that his son and close personal friends are preparing things for him to arrive there. Montenegro is where deposed Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, sought refuge.

5:47pm Al Masry Al Youm, the largest independent newspaper in Egypt, says that security forces have broken into the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood website and arrested 12 journalists working on the site.

5:38pm Latest audio report from Al Jazeera's web producer in Cairo.

5:31pm Crowds halt the chanting and pray together in Tahrir Square.

5:22pm Video on Youtube showing a young boy in Alexandria leading a large group of pro-democracy protesters. Al Jazeera cannot verify the authenticity of the video.

5:17pm Hundreds of thousands of people still protesting in Cairo and many other cities across the country, all defying the curfew that is still in place.

5:13pm First gunshots for the day just heard and pro-democracy protesters cheer as army arrests suspected Mubarak loyalists near Tahrir Square.

4:37pm Inside Tahrir Square there are tens of thousands of people - same diverse crowd as the Tuesday demonstration, many women and children, old and young, Muslims and Copts. Many more people crossing over via Qasr al-Nile bridge.

4:30pm Al Jazeera reporter in Alexandria says that under-cover police officer was captured after the afternoon prayers - some pro-democracy protesters have made sure that he was not injured by anyone.

4:28pm Robert Fisk's latest 'Mubarak will go tomorrow,' they cried as rocks and firebombs flew".

4:23pm Senior military officer in limosine being driven around military positions near #Tahrir Square, talking to soldiers.

4:10pm Reports that group of Mubarak loyalists has grown to over 500 now. However, the situation remains largely peaceful and somewhat joyous since Friday prayers. A reader sent in this pic:

3:51pm Al Jazeera issues a statement condeming the "gangs of thugs" that stormed their office in Cairo. The office has been burned along with the equipment inside it. 

It appears to be the latest attempt by the Egyptian regime or its supporters to hinder Al Jazeera’s coverage of events in the country...

It appears to be the latest attempt by the Egyptian regime or its supporters to hinder Al Jazeera’s coverage of events in the country.

In the last week its bureau was forcibly closed, all its journalists had press credentials revoked, and nine journalists were detained at various stages. Al Jazeera has also faced unprecedented levels of interference in its broadcast signal as well as persistent and repeated attempts to bring down its websites.

We are grateful for the support we have received from across the world for our coverage in Egypt and can assure everyone that we will continue our work undeterred.

3:45pm International attention remains hooked on the uprisings in Tunisia and now Egypt, but Nic Dawes, Editor of South Africa's Mail & Guardian says there "has been little focus on the African dimension of these uprisings".

There are certainly countries - not least among those close to Egypt - that could do with broad-based civil movements against authoritarianism. Chad is perhaps the most benighted, but the depth of its isolation and tyranny are such that it is difficult to imagine a people-power movement succeeding.

What about Ethiopia
and its increasingly authoritarian president, Meles Zenawi? Or Uganda, where Yoweri Museveni is consolidating his grip on power? Or Angola, where oil revenues fatten the ruling elite and human development stalls? Or Zimbabwe? Or any of the pseudo-democracies that dot the continent"

Elsewhere in the Mail & Guardian, online Editor Chris Roper asks if Twitter will save Africa, while blogger Khadija Patel warns that South Africans are failing "to give voice to that facet of the South African experience that strongly resonates with the Egyptians and Tunisians".

A demonstration was held today at the Egyption embassy in Pretoria. (Source)


3:43pm Al Jazeera reporters say that numbers of Mubarak-loyalists on the 6th of October bridge has increased to over 300 now. An army tank has moved position to confront them.

3:25pm Mondoweiss, a news website focused on American foreign policy in the Middle East, shows this interesting graph comparing Al Jazeera traffic to The New York Times.

3:12pm At least 200 pro-Mubarak loyalists are on the 6th of October bridge just outside Tahrir Square in Cairo.

3:10pm Al Jazeera's reporter in Alexandria sent through this picture from the protests there. Thousands of men and women are still streaming in to join the already large crowds.

2:35pm Reports coming in that Al Jazeera's Arabic office in Cairo has been stormed and thrashed by unknown men. More information to follow.

1.45pm:
Amr Moussa, the Arab league chief, is attending the rally in Tahrir Square.

1:30pm: About 3,000 people demonstrate in support of President Mubarak in the Mohandiseen district in Giza, adjacent to Cairo.

1:14pm: Our correspondent in Cairo says pro-Mubarak gangs are not visible at all in the streets and that the army has taken extensive measures to secure the demonstration. She says imams, speaking in mosques today, have called for calm and praised the role of the army as it is working to prevent violence. 

 We are showing live pictures from both Alexandria and Cairo - click here

12:53pm: Prayers are over and the masses, hundred thousands of people, are chanting "We won't go until he leaves".

Yesterday, NevineZaki posted this picture on Twitter, saying it shows Christians protecting those praying in Tahrir Square amid violence between protesters and Mubarak supporters. She wrote "Bear in mind that this pic was taken a month after z Alexandria bombing where many Christians died in vain. Yet we all stood by each other"


Tahrir Square, Thursday

12:35pm: Our correspondent in Alexandria says tens of thousands of people have gathered in the centre of Alexandria. He says Christians and others not performing Friday prayers have formed a "human chain" around those praying to protect them from any potential disruptions.

12:26pm: Friday prayers at Tahrir Square now. The sermon preceding it called for release of political prisoners and constitutional amendments.

12:22pm: Our correspondent in Cairo says people away from the main protest area are stying inside, fearing violence. She quotes one person as saying "I can't even trust my neighbour anymore, nowadays you never know who is supporting who."

12:08pm: Reports say supporters of President Mubarak are still gathering around Tahrir Square.


Tanks and soldiers guard the entrance to the US embassy near Tahrir Square [EPA]

11:36am: An AFP photographer says Defence Minister Tantawi has addressed the crowd in Tahrir Square, surrounded by soldiers, who called on the protesters to sit down.

"The man [Mubarak] told you he won't stand again," Tantawi said, referring to the president's announcement that he will not seek re-election in polls to be held this autumn. Tantawi also repeated a call from the Egyptian government for the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's biggest opposition group, to join a dialogue with the government.


Photo by AFP

11:28am: Protester Aida El-Kashes, on the phone from Tahrir Square, describes the situation there as calm and safe. She says all entrances to the square except the one near the Egyptian museum are open and people are getting in. The thousands of protesters who have been through the past days violence together now have bounds to each other "as a big family", she says..

11:08am: Our reporter in Tahrir Square says protesters are checking the ID's of people entering the area to make sure no members of the police or other security services are getting in (Egyptian IDs mention the person's profession). She says the protesters are very welcoming to journalists.

11:02am: Our correspondent says tens of thousands of people have gathered in Tahrir Square, and many more are expected after Friday prayers.

10:50am: Egypt's defence minister is visiting Tahrir Square today, a ministry source tells Reuters. "Field Marshal [Mohamed Hussein] Tantawi and leaders of the armed forces are currently in Tahrir Square," the source is quoted as saying.

10:35am: A number of European leaders are meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels, discussing the situation in Egypt. Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee, covering the summit, says what happens in the EU with regards to Egypt mirrors what happened in the United States: "They were quite lukewarm to begin with ... but now just like the Obama administration, they are saying that there needs to be immediate transition to democracy in Egypt in a smooth manner."

10:09am: Our correspondent at Tahrir Square says soldiers are preventing people from getting into Tahrir Square from at least one of the entry points. 

10:01am: More from our web producer in Cairo: "About 65 soldiers stationed around 6th of October bridge and the museum, wearing riot gear. Limiting access to Corniche, etc."

9:55am: The website World Wide Tahrir calls for sit-ins to be held at Egyptian embassies "from Friday 4th Feb at 20:00 local time in your city(!!!), till Mubarak leaves"

9:50am: Our web producer in Cairo writes on Twitter: "Egyptian state TV reporting that one of its crews was attacked in Tahrir Square. Amusing thought, but is it true? Could be propaganda."

9:45am: The editor-in-chief of Ikhwan online, the official website for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, says police and "thugs" have attacked Cairo International Media Center.

9:03am: One of our correspondent just wrote on Twitter: "Festive and Celebratory atmosphere that marked the days of the protest b4 Pro-mubarak peeps attacked is back in #tahrir"

And, about 20 minutes ago, another of our reporters wrote: "Dozens of police trucks in side streets around Pres Palace.Yes thats right police!Haven't seen them in a while."

8:59am: Mohammed al-Beltagi, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, tells Al Jazeera that his movement has no ambitions to run for the Egyptian presidency.

8:29am: Our correspondent writes on Twitter: "by 7am friday: chants of 'get out' 'invalid' 'leave' resonating louder than ever this time of day"

8:21am: Salma El Tarzi, a protester in Tahrir Square, tells Al Jazeera over the phone that the moral in the square is high and the atmosphere cheerful, "like a festival",  with thousands of people arriving.

8:01am: The curfew has now been lifted and protests are due to start at noon, after Friday prayers.

7:53am: Mona Seif, an Egyptian activist, just posted this picture from Tharir Square this morning.

7:45am: The Guardian has great pictures of protesters putting on makeshift helmets during yesterday's clashes. Cardboard, buckets and plastic soda bottles were used to deflect the stones.

7:03am: Our producer says there appears to be a security build-up at Tahrir Square, with troops in riot gear standing next to tanks at the outskirts of the square.  

6:55am: Watch our video wrapping up yesterday's events

6:15am: Our reporter in Tahrir Square says there is an "easy calm" in Tahrir Square, as protesters prepare for renewed protests on what they call "the day of departure" for President Mubarak.

6.02am: The New York Times reports that the US administration is in talks with Egyptian officials over a proposal for President Hosni Mubarak to resign immediately, turning over power to a transitional government headed by Vice- President Omar Suleiman. The White House has not confirmed the report.

3:23am Anti-Mubarak protester Nadine Shams tells Al Jazeera that protesters are trying to gear up for Friday's protests while securing Tahrir Square and keeping themselves safe. She tells us that protesters fear being attacked by armed men again.

2:49am Here's another video from Egypt's "Day of Rage" on January 28 shows a vehicle ploughing over protesters. The person who posted the cilp claims it is a diplomatic vehicle that "ran over more than 20 people" but we can't verify these details at this time.


2:14am  One of our Web producers notes that loudspeakers inside Tahrir Square are playing loud, old-school patriotic Egyptian songs. People are clapping along.

2:08am Anti-Mubarak activist Mona Souief tells Al Jazeera that people feel that they are "past the worst." and that if protesters could make it past the violence of the past 24 hours, than they could persevere.

2:01am  Egyptian state television claims that some anti-Mubarak protesters are asking to be able to pass the barricades and leave Tahrir Square, and that that the Egyptian army has indicated that it's ready to help protesters leave the square. 

But Al Jazeera Arabic contacted some protesters, who have have denied the reports carried on Egyptian television. 

1:26am Aida Seif El Dowla, founder of the El Nadim Center tells Al Jazeera how a sister organisation, the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, a prominent legal aid group providing help to anti-government protesters , was raided on Thursday, with its staff of five, along with 25 volunteers, being detained.

Since early in the morning, the area ... was full of thugs, who randomly rounded up people from the streets and them people in microbuses and just took them away, God knows where. And then we heard that the army had surrounded the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre, and then we heard that thugs were surrounding the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre, and they're not allowing people to enter or to leave the building. And then we heard that the army - the military police - they went up into the centre, broke into it, took the equpment, took the computers, took some of the files, removed some of the sim cards from the mobile phones ...

When asked if she knew where her colleagues were being kept, al Dowla said,

We don't know. We don't know. The fact that they have been taken by the military police means that probably being kept in some military place, not the normal police stations, depending on where they have been detained from, and so we have no access to those people, we have no knowledge of whether or not they are safe. … we have absolutely no idea where they are.

She said among those detained are representatives of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, along with several bloggers.

1:02am AJE correspondent reports that live shots will resume as soon as it is safe to do so, as journalists with cameras are being targeted.

12:20am Charter evacuation flights are landing all around the world as foreigners, fearing for their safety, leave Egypt.

12:16am Our live blog on the Battle for Egypt begins now and will continue for the rest of the day.