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Friday
Feb042011

Egypt (and Beyond) LiveBlog: A Big Day --- And Not Just in Cairo

0107 GMT: Fox News reports that an assassination attempt on newly-appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman left two people dead this week. Neither Fox nor anyone else has confirmed this story. When asked the question, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had this to say: 

"I'm not going to ... get into that question,"

Egypt Cartoon of the Day: The Sun Rises 
Egypt Snapshot: The Discussions for Mubarak's Exit 
Egypt Special Analysis: Can a Day of Departure Avoid a Day of Bloodshed? 
Egypt (and Beyond) LiveBlog: The Battle of Tahrir Square

0100 GMT: Members of hacktivist group Anonymous have targeted the government websites of Yemen and Egypt in solidarity with the protests in those country against the dictators. They used Distributed Denial of Services (DDoS) attacks to make websites unavailable for viewing. 

0036 GMT: Two New York Times journalists chronicle their arrest on Thursday and what they witnessed while in detention.

...our discomfort paled in comparison to the dull whacks and the screams of pain by Egyptian people that broke the stillness of the night. In one instance, between the cries of suffering, an officer said in Arabic, “You are talking to journalists? You are talking badly about your country?”

A voice, also in Arabic, answered: “You are committing a sin. You are committing a sin.”

...

A plainclothes officer who said his name was Marwan gestured to us. “Come to the door,” he said, “and look out.”

We saw more than 20 people, Westerners and Egyptians, blindfolded and handcuffed. The room had been empty when we arrived the evening before.

0012 GMT: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to her Egyptian counterpart from her plane en route to Munich. She apparently also tried to reach the Prime Minister, but didn't succeed. 

0008 GMT: Reuters earlier reported that gunfire was heard near Tahrir Square. Al Jazeera now claims that it was the Army firing shots in the air as warning. Eye-witnesses claim that dozens of thugs and pro-Mubarak protesters tried to enter Tahrir Square from Al-Falaki Square, but were repelled by protesters, their barricades and warning shots by the Army. 

0001 GMT: France24 has a video of a man from Egypt who was caught by protesters and who confesses that he was paid 5,000 Egyptian pounds by the authorities to attack protesters and chant "Long Live Mubarak. You can watch the video here

2350 GMT: Since the protests started, everyone's been saying it is going to cost the economy. How much, though, has been a question mark so far. Now, one bank claims that the economy may have lost over $3 billion so far. CBS reports

Credit Agricole, in one of the first assessments quantifying the damage to the economy, said the crisis is costing Egypt at least $310 million per day. The bank also revised down its forecast for 2011 GDP growth to 3.7 percent from 5.3 percent and said the Egyptian pound could see a depreciation of up to 20 percent. 

2350 GMT: Sources are mute on what exactly is happening in Tahrir. Some say gunfire can be heard or was heard while others deny this. 

2340 GMT: There are reports that Tahrir Square has been attacked by pro-government thugs again. Heavy gunfire can be heard coming from the direction of the square, it's reported, but we cannot confirm. More information on this in a minute. 

2335 GMT: The Los Angeles Times reports that Vice President Omar Suleiman's meeting tomorrow with some opposition figures and others will be to discuss a scenario in which he would assume the powers of the president's office temporarily and constitutionally. 

2320 GMT: The Tunisian government has announced that next week it will lift the State of Emergency it imposed last month, following last months of intense protests against former dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. 

2318 GMT: An Amnesty International spokesperson on Al Jazeera claimed that the arrest of Amnesty staff members in Cairo was an attempt by the government to hamper the documentation of abuses committed during protests against the peaceful demonstrators.  

2316 GMT: Tahrir Square tonight is full of protesters. Tens of thousands have camped in and the scene is being described as very festive. Any clashes outside the square are minor. 

2308 GMT: Social media not a factor at all in Egypt? Think again and check out this second picture from the protests with a direct reference to Facebook and Twitter. (Text in red circle reads, "People Book" as well as #Jan25, which is a reference to the Twitter hashtag for the protests): 

2306 GMT: Dan Williams of Human Rights Watch is still being held after two days of detention by the security forces.  

2255 GMT: TheBookseller.com reports

The offices of the vice-president of the International Publishers' Association came under attack in Egypt because publishing is a method freedom of speech in the troubled country, he has claimed.

The aggressors were thought to be supporters of the Egyptian Hosni Mubarak- who is facing increasing calls for his immediate resignation after nearly 30 years of leading the country.

2250 GMT: Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair - the West's envoy to Israeli-Palestinian peace talks - today said today: "We want to engage with whoever will be in charge in Egypt."

Will current Prime Minister David Cameron follow suit? 

2245 GMT: Al Jazeera confirms

The head of Al Jazeera Arabic's bureau in Cairo and another AJA journalist have been detained in the Egyptian capital.

2240 GMT: The Washington Post reports

The U.S. Postal Service is temporarily suspending mail deliveries to Egypt because of a stoppage of international mail transportation flights there.

2235 GMT: Kim Ghattas of BBC tweets

Obama said discussions had begun in Egypt about turnover of gov. Referring to expected meeting 2moro bw opposition figures & VP Suleiman

Washington encouraging both sides to break deadlock & start dialogue, discuss contours of transition.

US official tells me most opposition groups expected @ mtg, not Muslim Brotherhood. After quiet day in Cairo, atmos for dialogue better

If meeting takes place, both opposition and Suleiman will hav made compromise. Not guarantee that mtg will produce result.

2233 GMT: There are now reports that the security forces had arrested the director of Al Jazeera's Cairo Bureau and another journalist. The story is so far unconfirmed. 

2230 GMT: Al Jazeera Arabic reports that Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq has vowed to release all Muslim Brotherhood and all other political detainees, except those who participated in what he called 'sabotage. 

Question is, how is the government going to use that blanket term now? Will it hold thousands or a few dozen for that charge? 

2225 GMT: Now that internet is not blocked in Egypt, the government is using other tactics to limit the amount of information flowing through the internet. Jake Applebaum of Tor Project reports that internet service for TE Data in the country is being rate limited to only 16/kbps. 

2210 GMT: Lyse Doucet of BBC tweets: 

Muslim Brotherhood spokesman: no dialogue while Mubarak in power. But he can stay in  "its a big country" 

2205 GMT: Is the Egyptian state media reconsidering its coverage of protests? Evan Hill tweets

State TV interviewing pro-democracy guy with injured right hand in the studio and showing pics from inside Tahrir. Their tone is changing.

2200 GMT: Muslim Brotherhood's leadership has indicated that it will not field candidates for any future presidential elections.

2155 GMT: Al Masry Al Youm quotes the Egyptian Ministry of Health, which claims that at least 28 people have been injured in the Day of Departure protests today so far. 

2150 GMT: Al Arabiya reports that almost a million foreigners had left Egypt since the beginning of protests 11 days ago. No confirmation of these numbers exists. 

2140 GMT: The Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq has reportedly said that anti-regime protesters in Egypt would not be forced to leave. He added that they were free to remain on Tahrir Square and as long as they were violence and did not commit vandalism, no one would be arrested. 

2137 GMT: White House Spokesperson Robert Gibbs told reporters that the US Embassy in Cairo was working with the Egyptian government for the release of American journalists arrested in the past few days. He added: 

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...

2134 GMT: Al Jazeera has this tidbit to add from President Obama: 

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

2130 GMT: The Egyptian Ministry of Health announced earlier that at least 11 people had died and more than 5,000 were injured in the attacks by thugs on Tahrir Square's protesters two nights ago. 

2127 GMT: We earlier reported that the former Trade Minister Rasheed M. Rasheed was going to be placed under investigation and his assets had been frozen. Now, Al Masry Al Youm is reporting that that government has imposed a travel ban on him as well. They add

On Thursday the attorney-general banned other former officials from travel, including former NDP Organization Secretary Ahmed Ezz, former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, former Housing Minister Ahmed al-Maghraby and former Minister of Tourism Zuhair Garrana.

 1910 GMT: Former Trade Minister Rasheed M. Rasheed is now being investigated by the state. His assets have been frozen. The story first reported by Al Arabiya is not confirmed by any other sources. 

1910 GMT: The Washington Post has released an amazing array of pictures from Tahrir Square and other parts. You can access them here.

1900 GMT: The Muslim Brotherhood's official English website, IkhwanWeb, has this little gem for Iranian dictator Ali Khamenei: 

MB responds to Iran’s Islamic Leader Mr Khamenai: The MB regards the revolution as the Egyptian People’s Revolution not an Islamic Revolution asserting that the Egyptian People’s Revolution includes Muslims, Christians, from all sects and political...

1855 GMT: Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei's latest Facebook update says, "Elbaradei to Al Jazeera: I hope President Mubarak doesn't ask the people [Egyptians] to leave." 

1850 GMT: Egytpian State TV is saying that Al Jazeera's offices in Egypt will be closed as their license has been revoked again. We are trying to find more confirmation of this story. 

1845 GMT: Embattled Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi spoke about a transition in Egypt and called Mubarak, "the wisest of men and the reference point to the whole Middle East". 

1840 GMT: Pro-democracy activist Ahmad Makawi on Al Jazeera from Alexandria reports that people are planning on staying the night on the city's streets. He adds that they will continue protesting and supporting their fellow protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo. The protest according to him is largely peaceful and they numbered 100,000. 

1837 GMT: Al Jazeera is reporting that tens of thousands of people protested in the Sinai town of Rafah, on the Gazan border against Mubarak. 

1820 GMT: After the sniper attacks on Egyptian protesters in Tahrir Square a couple of days ago, protesters have come up with ingenious ways to protect themselves. As most victims were shot in the head, special care has been taken to protect that part of the body, as this picture suggests: 

1820 GMT: @btnafas7oria tweets that she was detained by state security today and then released after five hours of illegal detention. Others are reporting that at checkpoints across Cairo, foreigners are being sought by security and pro-government people. 

1815 GMT: Newly-appointed Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq spoke to Al-Arabiya and said that Mubarak hadn't done anything wrong to the Egyptian people. He added that Mubarak had agreed to the demands for change. He concluded that after 30 years of Mubarak in power, 5 months won't make a big difference. 

1812 GMT: The Daily News Egypt reports of thousands protesting in Suez and other cities in the Sinai peninsula, including Sheikh Zowayid, Rafah and Al-Arish. We cannot independently confirm this. 

1800 GMT: Al Jazeera's offices in Cairo were attacked by unknown men and torched. The Associated Press reports: 

Qatar-based Al-Jazeera — widely watched in the Middle East — portrayed the attack on its office as an attempt by Egypt's regime or its supporters to hinder its coverage of the uprising in Egypt. Al-Jazeera said the office was burned along with the equipment inside it.

Al-Jazeera also said a banner advertisement on its Arabic-language site was taken down for more than two hours early Friday and replaced with a slogan reading "Together for the collapse of Egypt," which linked to a page criticizing the network.

1750 GMT: And the role of social media in the protesters? True, unlike Tunisia, Twitter and Facebook played a small role in the protests, but it was not overlooked by protesters as this picture from NBC suggests: 

Protester holds sign in Cairo that says, "Thank You... Youth of Egypt - Facebook - Steadfast, Will Not Leave. (Credit: Richard Engel, NBC)

1745 GMT: There are now reports that Al Ahram newspaper's reporter Ahmed Mahmoud, who was shot on the 29th of last month during protests, has died of his injuries.

1740 GMT: Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei has announced that there are no serious negotiations going on between the opposition and the government, adding that he and his allies wanted a complete change from a military based rule to a real democracy. However, he claimed that the government was still trying to hold on to power. 

He concluded: The regime must answer the public's demand for change. The people won't leave so the regime must.  It's Mubarak vs The Egyptian people. the international community must choose between the two. Naturally I want to play a part in the future, but who stands in the election, that's really not so important at the moment.  As to what's after Mubarak, He said that there was a method. The Egyptians, he said, we not the first country to a democratize, and it was not like reinventing the wheel.

There seems to be no truth to the report that Mohamed ElBaradei will not run for presidential elections in September. 

1635 GMT: We are seeing images of hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of Cairo, but how big were the protests in Alexandria today? Here's a picture: 

1720 GMT: Activist and co-founder of Kefaya Movement, Dr. Hani Iman, is speaking to Al Jazeera from Tahrir Square (paraphrased): 

...Very Intense determination of people to stay till he [Mubarak] steps down... We as a generation are suspicious about this regime. He sent his thugs to kill us. There is no going back and not trusting him. There will be no dialogue until Mubarak steps down.

Very soon we will be forming a committee that the people that are protesting trust. I trust Mohamed ElBaradei. Not just trust, but he is a good negotiator. Protesters are very united. There are some Muslim Brotherhood people. People are melting together and a lot of things have been resolved. 

1710 GMT: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for elections in Egypt immediately and not in September as it has been planned. 

1710 GMT: Thousands are now praying in Alexandria on the streets and squares, after turning up and joining country-wide protests. There are now reports that blogger Wael Abbas, who was detained half an hour ago, has now been released. 

1710 GMT: Al Arabiya reports that the 10-man wise men committee has gotten positive feedback from President Mubarak about handing over power to VP Omar Suleiman. No one else has confirmed this.

1700 GMT: There have been reports that there was a Coptic Christian mass and prayer held in Tahrir Square today for Christian Egyptians. Christians make up 10% of the country's protests and thousands of Christians have taken part along with the majority Muslim population in anti-Mubarak protests. 

1658 GMT: After blogger Wael Abbas's alarming tweet: "arrested by army!", now Hany Fakhry tweets

Just called @ -He is ok so far, they are 5 located now somewhere related to military police. Pray for them

1655 GMT: There are reports that calls are being made for millions to come out and protest on Sunday, Tuesday and next Friday. 

1655 GMT: There have been clashes around Tahrir all day, just not inside the square, it seems. There were clashes for hours on the streets east of the square and some on the Kasr Al-Nil Bridge. No reports of injuries or death. 

1650 GMT: Egyptian blogger, Wael Abbas, just tweeted from Cairo, "arrested by the army!" Everyone is panicking. We do not know whether he has been arrested or not. Waiting for more updates. 

1645 GMT: ABC News reports that Mubarak and his families personal wealth could range anywhere between $40-$70 billion dollars - most of it outside of Egypt, possibly in Swiss and British banks. 

1635 GMT: UK Foreign Secretary William Hague tweets

World is watching response to protests & legitimate demands for change in Egypt. We need to see them addressed, not repeat of violence

UK message to Egyptian government - transition to change and reform has to begin immediately and must be credible

1627 GMT: The Daily News Egypt website is reporting that three members of parliament from the ruling National Democratic Party have resigned because of ongoing protests. 

"This is the only thing I can do to express my solidarity with the revolution. I don't agree with this regime and the way it reacted to the current revolution proving that it must leave, including its head," one of them said. 

We cannot confirm this yet. 

1626 GMT: Al Mousry Al Youm reports

Increased security measures are in place along the streets leading to the Presidential Palace, President Hosni Mubarak's home in Heliopolis, as well as in neighboring areas.

1620 GMT: After the attack on the office of Muslim Brotherhood and arrests of 12 journalists there by the government, BBC Arabic is now reporting that state security has shut down Muslim Brother leader Yusuf Qardawi's website IslamOnline in Egypt and arrested six of its employees. 

1615 GMT: Apparently, a 10-man committee has been formed that's being called the 'wise men' committee and is negotiating with high-ranking officials in Egypt over the protests and the eventual outcome of the crisis. Few details have been divulged. 

Amir Hamzawi, a member of the committee, spoke to Al Jazeera and told them that the committee has met with the Vice President Omar Suleiman and the Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq. He is also being reported as saying that VP Suleiman has effectively assumed presidential powers.

Could this be the formed by officials that were earlier discussing a proposal for Mubarak to leave immediately with the US? 

1610 GMT: An EA source reports: 

A reporter for Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore has been now able to make his way into Tahrir Square. He says numbers in Tahrir are between 300k - 400k and many many more are outside the square. Authorities are treating foreign reporters with ambiguity. Sole states that there is uncertainty as to what shall happen by nightfall.

1605 GMT: A Google Marketing Executive for the Middle East Wael Ghonim who flew into Egypt and was arrested has been named a spokesperson for the "6th of April" Movement in a bid to secure his release. 

1605 GMT: Al Jazeera reports: 

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.

We cannot independently verify this. 

1600 GMT: Calls spreading online for protests against Bashar al-Asad in Syria. Al Jazeera reports

Organisers say protests will be staged in front of the parliament in the capital, Damascus, on Friday and Saturday, and at Syrian embassies across the world.

Several pages have been set up on Facebook, with the most popular one, named "The Syrian Revolution", "liked" by about 13,000 people by Thursday.

However, many of those writing comments on Facebook appeared to be Syrians living abroad calling on their "brothers" at home to protest. Sources in Syria told Al Jazeera they doubted that the calls for protests would really result in much action on the ground.

This is being accompanied by calls on the Syrian government to respect the rights of protesters to show discontent. 

1600 GMT: Yemen Online reports

Yemen opposition calls president to sack his son and relatives from high security and military positions

Leaders of the Joint Meeting Parties JMP (Opposition) have called Yemeni president Saleh to sack his son Ahmed Ali from the leadership of the republican guards and other relatives that occupied high positions in security and military forces in Yemen. President Saleh must take these step to confirm the credibility for reform” Opposition leader Zaid Al-Shami says.

 

1545 GMT: Pro-Mubarak protesters are holding a rally in Cairo's affluent suburb of Mohandissine that was shown on State TV. Numbers cannot be reliably estimated.

The state TV, however, claims that there are only a few hundred protesters in Tahrir Square, while the pro-Mubarak protest in Mohandissine is huge. 

We can watch the Tahrir square anti-regime protests on several independent TV networks and they seem to be in the hundreds of thousands if not in the millions if you count the surrounding area.  

1540 GMT: Al Arabiya is reporting that the EU has frozen the bank accounts of 46 associates of former dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia. We cannot confirm this. 

1535 GMT: Israeli Foreign Ministry says that is trying to secure the release of an Israeli citizen arrested from Suez. 

1535 GMT: Egyptian state TV is now saying that the Army will protect the protesters that leave Tahrir Square. Does this mean it won't do the same for those who stay? 

1520 GMT: There are reports that an Egyptian state TV just showed a report and an interview with a supposed organizer of the protests who claimed that they won't leave until demands are met and that protests were organized by the Muslim Brotherhood. The TV is claiming that the protests are Muslim Brotherhood-backed and suggesting they are organized by the Muslim Brotherhood as well- feeding the fears some have in the West of an Islamic Revolution. 

There is no evidence to suggest that the man interviewed on TV is indeed one of the organizers. No other TV station including Al Jazeera has been able to get a hold of any of the organizers. 

1518 GMT: Curfew is now in effect in Egypt. Numbers in Tahrir Square are still rising. Hundreds of thousands of others are still in squares and streets of other cities in North and Northeastern Egypt. 

1515 GMT: People are no chanting, "We r not leaving, he is leaving!"

1512 GMT: Al Mousry Al Youm reports

Thugs have been obstructing citizens coming out of metro stations near Tahrir Square, eyewitnesses said. Cairo's central square has been the site of massive protests demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

"I have the right to protest, and I support the people's demand that President Mubarak leaves office," said a citizen who managed to escape the bullies. He added that thugs and security forces, not protesters, were the ones causing damage.

A number of men in front of  subway stations said they were not stopping anyone. "We seek stability and calm for the country. Mubarak promised not to run for presidency again, so there is no need for more protests."

1510 GMT: Warning shots have been fired above the square. Tahrir Square is erupting in extremely loud chants. 

1510 GMT: Rumors that President Mubarak has left the capital for another city. There are also rumors that he has resigned. 

1506 GMT: Four former aides to sacked Interior Minister Al-Adly have been arrested by the government. 

1500 GMT: Almost 2 million people being reported in and around Tahrir Square now. There are hundreds of thousands of others marching in Alexandria, Mansoura and other cities. Reports indicate that calls have been heard from among the protesters to march on the Presidential Palace. 

1450 GMT: Two Radio Free Europe / Radio Europe journalists have been arrested in Cairo - both British subjects. 

1420 GMT: Al Jazeera English observes senior military commanders co-ordinating Army operations to prevent clashes between the two sides, including re-deployment of tanks to block pro-Mubarak group on 6 October bridge.

1415 GMT: Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abdul Gheit: has told CNN's Hala Gorani that President Mubarak will not leave and will die on Egytian soil.

Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq has said that 95% of the demands of protesters have been met and Mubarak must finish the Presidential term.

1405 GMT: Al Jazeera English just humiliated Egyptian State TV by showing its footage and translating the broadcast: the state outlet, over shots of a few dozen people gently strolling on a bridge across the Nile, says "10,000" supporters of the Government demonstrated today after Friday Prayer, while opposition protests never materialised. The anchorwoman explains, "We are here to correct the false information reported by foreign media."

Of course, Al Jazeera English juxtaposes this next to a shot of the mass gathering in Tahrir Square in Cairo.

1325 GMT: Al Jazeera English reports stone-throwing battles in side streets off Tahrir Square, beyond the anti-regime barricades, involving about 300 pro-Mubarak men.

1310 GMT: "Thousands" of pro-Mubarak protesters are reportedly marching in the Mohandessin section of Cairo. And 200 are said to be moving along the 6 October bridge towards Tahrir Square.

1255 GMT: More than 100,000 protesters in Damanhour, 100 miles northwest of Cairo, are reportedly marching to demand the immediate departure of President Mubarak. It is now reporting 500,000 protesting in Mansoura in northeastern Egypt.

About 20,000 are reported to be on the streets in Aswan in southern Egypt.

1245 GMT: Al Jazeera reports that the home of the leader of the Al Karama (Dignity) Party has been surrounded by knife-wielding regime supporters.

Jack Shenker of The Guardian reports that he "was detained along with Peter Beaumont [of The Observer[ by Army this morning, then released to vigilante mobs. Only just got back safely." An audio of an interview with Beaumont has been posted.

1235 GMT: Three MPs of the ruling National Democratic Party --- Mohamed el-Morshedy of Maadi, Hussein Sufi Abu Taleb of Fayyum, and Ali Seif of Alexandria --- have resigned in solidarity with protesters.

1230 GMT: Al Jazeera English's correspondent is estimating "a million" on the streets of Alexandria. He says that it is "really peaceful", despite some Al Jazeera footage of scuffles.

Al Jazeera reports 250,000 protesting in El Arish in the Sinai.

1210 GMT: Minister of Defense Mohamed Hossein Tantawi, in his visit to Tahrir Square (see 0850 GMT), had this message for protesters: "Tell the Muslim Brotherhood to sit and talk to the government....[Mubarak] told you he won't run for another presidential term."

1204 GMT: The spokesman for the historic Islamic institution Al-Azhar has resigned and join the protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Mohamed Refaa al-Tahtawy said Islam does not accept injustice and that a ruler who oppresses his people is the “biggest injustice”. He called for a trial for those who paid men to attack protesters in Tahrir Square on Wednesday night.

1158 GMT: Demotix has posted a series of photos of Thursday's demonstration, estimated at 20,000 people, in Sanaa in Yemen.

The Washington Post has an article, quoting a protester: ""We can change our president. We feel confident. I have two college degrees, in accounting and English. But I've been jobless for a year. I am no longer afraid to confront this regime."

1155 GMT: Reports circulate that Amr Moussa, Secretary-General of the Arab League, is now in Tahrir Square in Cairo.

Our colleague Sharmine Narwani had this long discussion with Moussa about regional issues in August 2010.

1150 GMT: It is reported that Sheikh Ahmad Mahallawi, imprisoned under the Sadat regime and banned from preaching for 30 years, led Friday prayers in Alexandria today.

1145 GMT: About 3000 people are in a pro-Mubarak march in Giza, Egypt's third-largest city.

1140 GMT: Al Jazeera reports a "massive protest in Ismailia on the Suez Canal, calling for Mubarak and the city governor to step down.

About 100,000 pro-democracy protesters in Zaqaziq in Lower Egypt are calling for the regime to fall and for Mubarak and his associates to be put on trial. There are also 100,000 reported on the streets of Mansoura in northeast Egypt.

1133 GMT: A contact from Egypt, back on the Internet after a 9-day outage, sends us this message:

 

These are desperate times indeed. Thirty years of oppression and dictatorship are coming to an end, but with a huge price. No town, no village is quiet and the regime forces and undercover thugs have been leashed on the demonstrators. The blood of young men and women has been spilled, but they will not back down. Live ammunition is being used, but The Day of Reckoning has arrived.

 

The US and Europe have for decades aligned themselves with one man against a population of 80 million who have been deprived of the basic needs of life. Today, it is their revolution, and we stand with them shoulder to shoulder because they deserve a better life. They deserve a share of the countless rich natural resources that is being piled up into Swiss and other bank accounts of corrupt regime officials, leaving them as destitute as you've seen for yourself. They deserve to speak up, and not be taken in the middle of the night to be tortured in police stations. They deserve dignity, not continuous humiliation at the hands of a few who look upon them as dispensable garbage.

They deserve this or they will die. And they will die with honor.

 

1105 GMT: The "scuffle" in Alexandria was some protesters telling others not to burn an effigy of President Mubarak. Al Jazeera's correspondent reports a "positive atmosphere" of people coming together. A wall of sound is heard as the chants continue after Friday Prayers.

Meanwhile, even the regime-supporting Nile TV has shown aerial shots of the Tahrir Square gathering in Cairo.

1100 GMT: Al Jazeera reports "tens of thousands" at Friday Prayers in Alexandria.

Live shots now show a scuffle breaking out.

1055 GMT: Friday Prayer at Tahrir Square in Cairo:

1050 GMT: Australian television reporter Hamish Macdonald sends the message, "Just got detained by military behind Egypt TV building. Captives there cable tied and being tasered. Not clear if the captive demonstrators were pro or anti mubarek. tasers were loud and fast. screams were horrific."

1042 GMT: Egyptian state media are claiming the military secured 18 journalists who were captured by "thugs" and took them to a "safe place".

EA contacts reports that journalists continue to be arrested by the military and and the intercom at the Intercontinental Hotel has told all reporters to stay in their rooms and not go out on balconies.

Il Sole 24 Oro reports on the detention and release of two Italian journalists, who had their equipment seized.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said late Thursday it had recorded 24 detentions, 21 assaults, and five instances of seized equipment in the past 24 hours.

1040 GMT: A "cacophony" as Friday Prayers end in Tahrir Square in Cairo: "He must leave, he must leaving. Invalid. Invalid."

1035 GMT: The BBC reports that a rocket-propelled grenade has been fired at state security headquarters in El-Arish in the Sinai in Egypt. There are no reported injuries.

1000 GMT: The crowd continues to grow in Tahrir Square, with thousands more waiting to enter, as Friday Prayers are about to begin.

0945 GMT: Prominent Islamic scholar Yusuf al Qaradawi is continuing to press President Mubarak, "If a leader is hated he just leave. You can't lead a people by force."

0935 GMT: It looks like Al Ahram, or at least its online English version, has come out for the anti-regime movement. One opinion piece today by Nabil Shawkat profiles Wednesday's events:

 

 

The army was washing its hands of the blood, or imagining itself to be doing so. Meanwhile, it ordered its vehicles to step aside and let another pro-Mubarak throng go on the offensive. The children were gone, the convertible was gone, the well-dressed people with their lovely arguments were gone. Only the Molotov cocktails stayed, and more of those kept coming.

 

And Hani Shukrallah's "Under the Lotus Flower --- A Uniquely Egyptian Revolution", has this introduction: "In the course of the past ten days, Egyptians have reinvented themselves and their nation. Though it fights desperately, and ruthlessly, for survival, the old order is defunct already."

0900 GMT: The Qasr-el-Nil entrance to Tahrir Square, now guarded by the Army as people queue to join the anti-regime protest:

0858 GMT: Lara Setrakian of American ABC News: "Helicopters flying VERY low over Tahrir Square. Chants of 'Mubarak go, Saudi Arabia is waiting for you.' Some swap that with Tel Aviv."

0850 GMT: A report comes in that Egyptian Minister of Defense Mohamed Husein Tantawi is now in Tahrir Square in Cairo.

A Defense Ministry source has also given this news to Reuters.

0825 GMT: News that two French journalists, Sofia Amara and Pedro Da Fonseca of Magnetopress, were detained yesterday.

And we learn that human rights attorney Ahmed Seif El-Islam Hamad was seized this morning.

0740 GMT: John Rugman of Britian's Channel 4 reports, "The anti-[regime] march to the Presidential Palace called off, says protest leader, as they focus on a people buildup in iconic Tahrir Square."

Ivan Watson of CNN adds, "Protesters say they don't plan to march to President Palace: "It will be the end of the revolution. Its psych-war by state media to get us out."

0730 GMT: An Al Jazeera correspondent sends a message, "Festive and Celebratory atmosphere that marked the days of the protest before pro-Mubarak peeps attacked is back in Tahrir."

0729 GMT: Mohammed El Beltagy, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, has told Al Jazeera that his movement has no ambitions to run for the Presidency.

0728 GMT: This may be a bit of reporting from Christiane Amanpour which is more important than her set-piece interviews with President Mubarak and Vice President Suleiman: "When I was in the presidential palace in Cairo earlier, the halls were empty and the people seemed tense and fearful."

0725 GMT: The word is going out via social media: "Get to Tahrir as early as you can in groups preferably and enter from Kasr El Nile, Talaat Harb, or Bab El Lou2, museum side is not safe."

An addendum to the message, however, is that it is uncertain if the streets leading to the Square are safe from pro-Mubarak groups.

Journalist Abbas al Lawati reports, "Just got to Tahrir sq. 3 chains of defence. Was checked for ID six times, patted down 4 times."

0720 GMT: The blogger Sandmonkey, who was detained yesterday, is back and in feisty form on Twitter: "Okay, guys, I am using an old laptop till the paranoid friends who took and hid my laptop upon hearing of my arrest come back with it."

0710 GMT: Complementing President Mubarak's phone discussion with American journalist Christiane Amanpour declaring that he wants to leave office but has to stay to prevent "chaos" --- see our special analysis --- Vice President Omar Suleiman has assured Amanpour that there will be no violence against anti-regime protesters.

Despite reports that the US Government is discussing a plan with Egyptian officials for the immediate departure of President Mubarak, Suleiman declares:

 

My telephone call with [US Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton. We discussed this issue but she didn't ask that President Mubarak step down now. But I told her it was a process, and at the end of it, President Mubarak will leave.

 

What I hear from President Obama is that he is supporting the people. President Obama told our president that he is a brave man."

 

0705 GMT: Confirmation Bert Sundström, a reporter from Swedish national television, was found yesterday but was stabbed and seriously wounded. He is now in hospital.

A report comes in that another Swedish journalist, Rimco Andersson, was detained this morning.

ABC News has been maintaining a list of beaten, arrested, and missing journalists.

0700 GMT: Activists and observers report that Tahrir Square in Cairo is "quiet" but numbers are larger than yesterday. Ayman Mohyeldin of Al Jazeera English adds, "Not once did the chants of the protestors in Tahrir quiet down overnight on Thursday. Determined and defiant as I have ever seen." And for him, it is far from quiet: "Chants of 'Get out', 'Invalid', 'Leave' resonating louder than ever this time of day."

The scene this morning:

0620 GMT: Amidst developments in Egypt, we begin with a special analysis, "Can a Day of Departure Avoid a Day of Bloodshed?".

No doubt our focus will continue on Egypt today; however, that should not obscure significant events elsewhere.

We did not get much news on Thursday's planned marches in Sudan; however, in Yemen an estimated 20,000 demonstrators kept up the pressure on President Ali Abdullah Saleh. We will be watching today to see if public protests spreads to Syria, where activists on Facebook have been planning their own "Day of Rage". Josh Landis offers an assessment of whether that might materialise. 

And in Algeria, State media reported that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika will repeal the 1992 State of Emergency "in the very near future". Bouteflika also reportedly told his Cabinet that political and economic reforms would be undertaken to combat unemployment and rising food prices.

On Wednesday, Vice Premier Yazid Zerhouni had been forthright that the issue of the State of Emergency was not relevant.

Opposition groups have planned a mass protest in the capital Algiers on 12 February.

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