Live blog Feb 9 - 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. Live Blog: Jan28 - Jan29 - Jan30 - Jan31 - Feb1 - Feb2 - Feb3 - Feb4 - Feb5 - Feb6 - Feb7 - Feb8 - Feb9
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(All times are local in Egypt, GMT+2)
10:44pm There's a candlelight vigil going on at Tahrir Square tonight, in memory of those who have been killed in the 16 days of protest.
10:07pm Here is, as Stephen Colbert would put it, your moment of zen ... it appears that the Muslim Brotherhood and the White House are in sync.
Here's what Robert Gibbs, White House spokesman, said about the Egyptian government response to the protests (from the AP):
The government has not taken the necessary steps that the people of Egypt need to see. That's why more and more people come out to register their grievances.
Gibbs also criticized the steps taken by Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman, Egyptian vice president, who is tasked with coming up with a transition plan.
The process for his transition does not appear to be in line with the people of Egypt. We believe that more has to be done.
And here's what Issam Elarian, spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, told Al Jazeera:
It's a strange situation - the Egyptian people are asking for real democracy, and the vice president says that people are not ready for democracy. Egyptian people need a civil, democratic state.
9:45pm Twitpiced image from NadiaE (featuring Mubarak's expirey date):
9:41pm More from Aboul Ghiet's interview with PBS (specifically, on when the Egyptian foreign minister read that Joe Biden, the US vice president, is calling for the lifting of emergency law in Egypt):
When I read it this morning I was really amazed because because right now, as we speak, we have 17,000 prisoners loose in the streets out of jails that have been destroyed. How can you ask me to sort of disband that emergency law while I'm in difficulty?
9:03pm It looks like Ahmed Aboul Ghiet, Egypt's foreign minister, has been making the media rounds.
He told al-Arabiya network on Wednesday that the Egyptian army could step in to protect "protect the country from an attempt by some adventurers to take power."
And in an interview with American public broadcaster PBS, the Aboul Ghiet said that he was "infuriated" by the US's initial response to the unrest in the country, and that he found the Obama administration's advice on political transition "not at all" helpful.
8:39pm Citing medics as sources, theAFP news agency now reports that at least five have been killed in Wadi al-Jadid after police fired live rounds into a crowd of proteststers.
8:07pm Protesters continue to surround the parliament building in Cairo, while soldiers guard the building, which, at the moment, holds no cabinet members. A protester told Al Jazeera's Jackie Rowland that occupying the area around parliament was another phase of the uprising. Tahrir Square, he said, was already occupied, and protesters would only leave by one of two means: If the government listened to what their demands and dissolved or by "bloodbath".
7:18pm The situation seems to have heated up in Ismailiya, where protesters stormed a government building and set fire to the governor's car. AFP reports that the protesters, angry that their requests for better housing had been ignored, came from a "nearby slum" where they'd lived in "makeshift huts for 15 years." Police, notes the agency, have "largely disappeared" from the town since the protests started more than two weeks ago.
6:47pm There are reports of continuing crackdowns in Wadi al-Jadid.
Attributing the information to Egyptian security officials, Reuters reports that several protesters suffered gunshot wounds and one was killed when 3,000 protesters took to the streets.
AFP news agency reportes three dead and 100 are wounded in the clashes that have been going on for two days. The protesters, said the report, retaliated:
The furious mob responded by burning seven official buildings, including two police stations and a police barracks, a court house and the local headquarters of President Hosni Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party.
Iran's PressTV, meanwhile, reoirts that three protesters have been killed and hundreds have been wounded.
6:07pm Al Jazeera's Shirine Tadros, reporting from Cairo, said that the members of the labour unions - some of them from independent, non-state unions - have joined the protesters, calling for Mubrak to step down.
Here's a wrap of the day, by Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher, also in Cairo:
5:31pm A doctor who treated some of those wounded in last night's clashes in Wadi al-Jadid said he treated four people, all of whom had been shot in the chest. All four, he said, survived.
5:10pm Reuters reports that the Egytian army is "beefing up security" on the road leading up to the presidential palace in Cairo.
4:14pm The AP news agency reports that protesters are responding angrily to Suleiman's statement on Tuesday, in which the vice presidnet said that continued protests would not be tolerated and would trigger a "coup" :
'He is threatening to impose martial law, which means everybody in the square will be smashed,' said Abdul-Rahman Samir, a spokesman for a coalition of the five main youth groups behind protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square. 'But what would he do with the rest of the 70 million Egyptians who will follow us afterward.'
Suleiman is creating 'a disastrous scenario,' Samir said. 'We are striking and we will protest and we will not negotiate until Mubarak steps down. Whoever wants to threaten us, then let them do so.'
4:00pm Al Jazeera's Stephanie Dekker reports that the the labour strikes are growing, with at least 6,000 in Cairo alone. She said that while the unions aren't calling for Mubarak to step down, they're using the opportunity to show their displeasure with the government and their wages.
Meanwhile Jamal Elshayyal reports that thousands have gathered in Alexandria (below), bringing the city to a standstill. He says a memo, said to be issued by the ministery of interior, is being circulated in the crowd. The memo encourages the police force to "hire thugs" to attack anti-government protesters. Elshayyal says he has not been able to confirm the authenticity of the memo, but that it's causing a stir among protesters.
2:00pm Wael Ghonim, the activist who was recently released from custody in Egypt, says on Twitter that a policeman informed him that General Habib Ibrahim El Adly, the former Interior Minister of Egypt, ordered the police to fire live bullets at protesters.
An officer just called me to tell me: I escaped from the service after ElAdly asked us to fire live bullets randomly on protesters. #Jan25
1:45pm Human Rights Watch says that 302 people have been killed since the start of Egypt's pro-democracy uprising last month. Based on visits to a number of hospitals in Egypt, the organisation said that records show the death toll has reached 232 in Cairo, 52 in Alexandria and 18 in Suez.
Egypt’s health minister said the organisation’s statement is wrong and that his ministry will issue official statistics within days.
1:32pm Update: two confirmed dead and dozens injured in Al-Wadi al-Jadid - this area includes five widely scattered clusters of oases and the entire southwestern quadrant of the country.
The government seems to be scrambling under pressure from international governments and pro-democracy supporters, Al Jazeera's reporter in Cairo said. She added however, that there are still an unknown number of people missing, including activists who took part in the recent protests.
11:51am Who's afraid of the Muslim Brothers - Mohammed Khan, a political analyst based in the UAE, says that Western fears of 'Islamism' have been aided by Arab autocrats seeking to prolong their iron-fisted rule.
11:33am More strikes now taking place in Mahalla and Suez. About 10,000 workers at various factories in different cities over the past 24 hours have gone on strike. Most are demanding better wages and conditions but they are also adding momentum to pro-democracy protestors.
11:19am The Daily Maverick, a South African website, launches Free African Media - what it says "will be the platform for the exchange of ideas and a place to plan new efforts" for media on the continent.
11:10am Protesters still camped out in Tahrir Square, while others gather outside the Egyptian parliament and the headquarters of the People's Assembly and Shura Council.
11:00pm Suleiman: The CIA's man in Cairo - Lisa Hajjar, co-editor of Jadaliyya, says "Suleiman, a friend to the US and reported torturer, has long been touted as a presidential successor".
10:34pm Pew Research Center reports that the turmoil in the Middle East has registered as the biggest international story for the US in the past four years - surpassing any coverage of the Iraq war, the Haiti earthquake and the conflict in Afghanistan.
driven by televised images, the protests and power struggle in Egypt filled 56% of the newshole studied ... it was easily the biggest overseas story in a single week since 2007
10:11am Egypt's Berlin Wall moment - Richard Falk, professor at Princeton University, says that the recent uprisings do not exist merely in a historical vacuum, but must be considered within a geopolitical context.
10:07am Egypt protests remain strong - demonstrations enter sixteenth day, following the largest gathering so far in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Crowds also out in huge numbers in Alexandria, Egypt's second largest city.
10:00am Egypt's three independent unions are due to demonstrate at 11am in front of the state-backed General Federation of State Unions. This move by the unions is a major boost for the pro-democracy activists.
7:45am Video posted on Youtube of protesters chanting against Tamer Hosni and forcing him to leave the square:
7:29am Al Jazeera reporter says that Tamer Hosni, a popular Egyptian singer and actor, was in Tahrir Square early this morning. He tried to address the crowd, but people shouted him down and the army had to intervene, firing warning shots in the air.
Hosni was whisked out of the square swiftly - this came after he spoke on national television, urging protesters to go home. It is not clear whether he came to the square to say the same thing, or if he had changed his views.
6:58pm Latest from Kharga Oasis in Al-Wadi al-Jadid is that police have cut off electricity and water since around 4:00am. Protesters say that police set a gas station on fire after retreating from violent clashes with the protesters. The protesters set fire to the NDP headquarters. Al Jazeera cannot verify any of this information at this stage. Stay tuned for more details.
6:40am Twitter user Omar Ghannam says that witnesses in the Al-Wadi al-Jadid governorate are reporting that there are clashes between the police and pro-democracy protesters:
Also the police set a lot of convicts from the Wadi Prison free to scare the people, keeping only detainees of political nature. The latest news was that the convicts are set to attack the museum, and the protesters are preparing molotovs for defense.
6:00am A warm account of a night in Tahrir Square. Video from the New York Times.
5:50am Spectacular photography of life in Tahrir continue to roll in. Though taken a few days back, this set by Andrew Burton is definitely worth a peek.
5:00am The United States has urged Egypt to immediately lift an emergency law and launch democratic reforms. However, Suleiman warned that hasty reforms could spell "chaos" in Egypt, the Arab world's most populous nation.
4:00am Al Jazeera speaks to Mona Seif, one of the protesters gathered infront of the parliament building in Cairo, calling for a dissolution of the assembly:
2:30am The latest image of Cairo's Tahrir Square - the epicentre of the demonstrations:
2:15am Al Jazeera's online producer captures the moment at the Egypt parliament sit-in when protesters scaled the main gate to erect their "Closed" sign:
2:00am Al Jazeera's correspondent, reporting from Cairo, says the current situation has "quietened down considerably".
Here's the latest update from our correspondent on the ground:
1:45am Time for a little levity. Here's a video from FunnyorDie.com of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak saying he's sorry via Chicago's "It's Hard to Say I'm Sorry":
1:30am Egypt’s Ambassador to the UN, Maged Abdelaziz, has spoken at the UN Security Council and had this to say about Al Jazeera:
"Even though when we had some disputes with Al Jazeera, and then they were able to broadcast, they managed to maneuver us and go to get from some other sources, so the world is a small village and everybody knows what is happening all over the place."
1:00am Vitaly Churkin, Russian Ambassador to the UN, has proposed a United Nations Security Council trip to the Middle East. Churkin says the last time the Security Council made a trip to the Middle East was 1979, and with the Palestine-Israel Peace Process at an impasse, a trip would be "useful".
12:45am House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), has said the primary goal of US policy in Egypt should be to "stop the spread of radical Islam".
12:30am Omar Suleiman, Egypt's vice president, tells ABC news that Egypt currently lacks the necessary "culture of democracy" for the changes demanded by protesters.
The White House press secretary Robert Gibbs has called his comments "particularly unhelpful".
Suleiman also blamed the protests for paralysing the Egyptian economy. "The big presence in Tahrir Square and some of the satellite stations which insult Egypt ... make citizens hesitant to go to work," he said.
Suleiman added: "We cannot bear this situation for a long time and we must end this crisis as soon as possible".
12:05am Al Jazeera correspondent explains why Egyptian democracy will not come free of charge.
12:00am We continue our live blogging for Februrary 9 here, as protests enter the 16th day in Egypt.