Investors transferred hundreds of millions of dollars out of the country since the start of the protests a week ago.
|Al Jazeera reports on the latest developments in Tahrir Square and across Egypt|
More than a million protesters flooded into central Cairo on Tuesday, turning the Egyptian capital’s Tahrir, or Liberation, Square into a sea of humanity as massive protests against Hosni Mubarak swept across Middle East’s most populous nation.
Packed shoulder to shoulder in and around the famed square, the mass of people held aloft posters denouncing the Egyptian president, and chanted slogans “Go Mubarak Go” and “Leave! Leave! Leave!”
Similar demonstrations calling on Mubarak to step down were also witnessed across other cities, including Sinai, Alexandria, Suez, Mansoura, Damnhour, Arish, Tanta and El-Mahalla el-Kubra.
Tens of thousands marched in Alexandria while the number of those protesting in Sinai was estimated to be around 250,000.
Tuesday’s protests were by far the biggest since street demonstrations broke out against Mubarak’s rule last week.
“The crowd is very diverse – young, old, religious, men, women – and growing by the minute,” Al Jazeera’s online producer said from Tahrir Square.
“They’re chanting the same slogans they’ve been chanting all week. Someone actually hung an effigy of Mubarak from a streetlight.”
Organisers had called for a march by a million people on the day, but the turnout surpassed all expectations.
Soldiers deployed at the square did nothing to stop the crowds from entering.
They formed a human chain around protesters, and checked people for weapons as they entered. Tanks had been positioned near the square, and officers checked identity papers.
According to reports, the military police placed barbed wire around Mubarak’s residence in Masr el-Gedidah, a suburb east of Cairo.
Al Jazeera correspondents said the mood at the Tahrir Square was “festival-like”.
“It is peaceful, people power that has united here in the heart of Egypt’s historic square,” reported one correspondent.
An Al Jazeera correspondent in Cairo said that there were reports that “thugs in certain parts of the city have been trying to stop people from driving into Cairo”.
She said that “increasingly large pockets of pro-government protests” also took place at various locations in the city. There were fears that if the two sets of protesters met, a violent clash could erupt.
Gigi Ibrahim, a political activist, told Al Jazeera the protesters would not be satisfied until Mubarak stepped down.
“… Every day there are more numbers on the street than the day before. I think the protests are gaining momentum. The people … will literally not leave until Mubarak steps down,” she said.
In turning out at Tahrir Square and elsewhere, the protesters overcame various odds. Authorities had stopped all train traffic from Monday afternoon in a bid to deter people from joining the protests, but they came out in very large numbers nevertheless.
State TV showed footage of the protests in Tahrir Square, though it continued to delve on how the protests were hurting Egypt’s economy.
Protest organisers had called for an indefinite strike to be observed across the country on Tuesday, the eighth day of an uprising that has claimed at least 150 lives.
The protesters have been emboldened by the army’s statement on Monday, in which they said that force would not be used against them.
“To the great people of Egypt, your armed forces, acknowledging the legitimate rights of the people,” stress that “they have not and will not use force against the Egyptian people,” said the statement.
It was the first such explicit confirmation by the army that it would not fire at demonstrators.
It urged people not to resort to acts of sabotage that violate security and destroy public and private property. It warned that it would not allow outlaws to loot, attack and “terrorise citizens”.
Mubarak swore in a new cabinet on Monday, in an attempt to defuse the ongoing demonstrations, but the move has done little to douse public anger.