Imagining a new Egypt

Protesters are refusing to back down until their voices are heard.

    Almost two thirds of Egypt's population have been born since President Hosni Mubarak came to power. Many of them have found it hard to imagine anything but his rule - until now.

    Across the nation people of all kinds - old and young, Christian and Muslim, rich and poor - have taken to the streets and they're refusing to back down until their voices are heard.

    Their demands are few but basic. They ask for a better minimum wage and the end to the emergency law, the resignation of Egypt's longest serving minister Habib el-Hadli, and the right to practice freedom of expression.

    But their calls for change are calling for deaf ears.

    As unprecedented protests broke out in downtown Cairo on the first night of demonstrations across Egypt, state television chose to air a documentary about the pyramids.

    There was no mention of the chaos which had ensued overnight. And on the following day, headlines in all the state-owned newspapers focused on developing stories in neighbouring countries such as Lebanon.

    Independent newspapers however carried graphic images of injured Egyptians and headlines in big red letters using words such as "warning".

    But perhaps the silence of the Mubarak government is much louder than it seems.

    Today Safwut el-Sherif, the secretary-general of Mubarak's ruling party, said in a press conference that he was concerned about the youth. He said they were misguided and gave no concessions for the hundreds of people that have been injured since January 25 when protests started.

    Thousands of Egyptians are planning to take part in peaceful marches and sit-ins in major cities. Mohammed ElBaradei, who has offered to become an interim leader, will be attending a major demonstration after Friday morning prayers in downtown Cairo.

    But already I have started getting reports from citizen journalists that government-hired thugs will make sure that nothing about tomorrow is peaceful. They say that in several low-income parts of Cairo and Alexandria, government-hired thugs were seen to be splashing petroleum over parked cars. This to prepare for protests in which they'll light vehicles on fire when the time is right for them.

    They've also heard rumours that the intelligence services will release a separate group of thugs under the name Akhwan al- Haq, or  Brothers of Truth, a trumped-up extremist group, that will charge through the streets with swords and caustic acid to splash on the protesters - thus placing all the blame of a peaceful uprising gone violent on a certain kind of Islamic extremism.
    SMS services have been blocked by all phone providers and phone services are expected to be severed throughout the day. The internet appears to be down in many parts of the country.

    Who knows what will happen but one thing is for certain - people are fed up.


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