Despite concessions, thousands continue to protest in Egypt

By David Edwards
Monday, February 7, 2011 10:12 EDT
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Concessions made by Egypt’s vice president Sunday haven’t been enough to clear Cairo’s Tahrir Square of thousands of protesters.

Vice President Omar Suleiman has promised to allow freedom of the press, to release detained protesters and eventually lift the country’s emergency laws, but demonstrators have pledged not to leave until President Hosni Mubarak steps down.

While the crowds had thinned in Cairo Monday, thousands remained determined to keep up the pressure on the government. Banks had reopened, but schools and the stock exchange were still closed.

Protesters even gathered enough support to form a human chain around Mugamma — a huge government building where people go to get paperwork processed.

The stock exchange, which was scheduled to reopen Monday, was to remain closed until Sunday, February 13.

US President Barack Obama called Sunday for a “representative government” in Egypt and said that regardless of when President Hosni Mubarak steps down the country had changed forever.

“The Egyptian people want freedom, free and fair elections, they want a representative government, they want a responsive government. We’ve said, you have to start a transition now,” Obama told Fox television.

Pressed on whether President Hosni Mubarak was going to quit now, Obama replied: “Only he knows what he’s going to do. Here’s what we know is that Egypt is not going to go back to what it was.

“He’s not running for re-election. His term is up this year,” he added.

Opponents of Mubarak’s embattled regime on Sunday dismissed as insufficient an offer to include them in political reform plans and renewed their demand that the president step down now, rather than after elections in September.

In a landmark concession, Suleiman agreed to sit down with the groups, which included the banned Muslim Brotherhood, but the talks produced no immediate breakthrough in the two-week-old standoff.

Some Western observers have expressed concern that the Brotherhood could sweep to power and institute an Islamist regime that would be no more democratic and might break Egypt’s close alliance with Washington.

There are also worries, particularly in Israel, that under the Brotherhood Egypt could adopt a much more hostile stance towards the Jewish state, even tearing up their 1979 peace treaty, signed after four wars.

Obama was keen to stress that Egyptian society was wider than just the Muslim Brotherhood but admitted some of their positions were a concern.

This video is from the Associated Press, published Monday, Feb. 7, 2011.

This video is from Al Jazeera English, broadcast Feb. 7, 2011.

– with AFP

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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  • Johnny Warbucks

    Despite government concessions? What bullshit! The protesters have one single, clear, concise demand: Mubarak must go! What part of that doesn’t the ‘new’ [cherry-picked by the United States of Israel] government understand?

  • justintime

    I’ve been away from the news for a few days, Johnny.
    Egypt seems to have dropped off the front page.
    Can the demonstrators keep up enough pressure to run Mubarak out of town?
    The Muslim brotherhood said it doesn’t want to be on the ballot.
    Why are the pundits so frightened of the MB?
    I thought they were on record as honoring Sadat’s peace treaty with Israel.
    Where is Ayman Nour?

  • Gnat K. Coal

    H0RSESH|T. Suleiman has promised NOTHING but retribution against those who protested!

  • Guest

    Um, seems pretty simple to me.

    Mubarak has to go ASAP. All the people affiliated with his party or his government have to go ASAP.

    The electoral council must be purged of anyone affiliated with him. Then organize votes for a new government in 90 days or 120, if they need the extra time.

    I’m sure the protesters would be quite happy once the fungus of Mubarakism and all it represents were eliminated. It won’t make the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, etc. happy, but it needs to happen. Immediately.

  • Anonymous

    If Suliman was serious he would have include Baradei in the face to face negotiations. By choosing only to negotiate with the Muslim Brotherhood, Suliman is trying to send some subliminal, though in your face message by doing this. He can now say, “See this, we tried to negotiate but they are not satisfied!” He really is so full of shit. I thought negotiations were supposed to bring all opposing parties to the table.

  • Anonymous

    A clean sweep is what’s required; nothing more, nothing less.
    The longer they procrastinate with wheels and deals the bigger the hole will get.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Verite-Laide-lImbecile/100000472938032 Vérité Laide l’Imbécile

    There are lots of reasons for the establishment to be afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood. The most obvious reason is that the Muslim Brotherhood killed Sadat.

  • Anonymous

    Media in Egypt: “The World Should Keep Watching”
    As Hundreds of thousands continue to protest across Egypt, journalists on the ground are urging international media to continue coverage and for viewers to “keep watching.” http://www.newslook.com/videos/288912-media-in-egypt-the-world-should-keep-watching?autoplay=true

  • justintime

    According to Wikipedia:
    Sadat’s assassination

    Islamists were enraged by Sadat’s Sinai treaty with Israel, particularly the radical Egyptian Islamic Jihad. According to interviews and information gathered by journalist Lawrence Wright, the group was recruiting military officers and accumulating weapons, waiting for the right moment to launch “a complete overthrow of the existing order” in Egypt. Chief strategist of El-Jihad was Aboud el-Zumar, a colonel in the military intelligence whose “plan was to kill the main leaders of the country, capture the headquarters of the army and State Security, the telephone exchange building, and of course the radio and television building, where news of the Islamic revolution would then be broadcast, unleashing – he expected – a popular uprising against secular authority all over the country.”

    In February 1981, Egyptian authorities were alerted to El-Jihad’s plan by the arrest of an operative carrying crucial information. In September, Sadat ordered a highly unpopular roundup of more than 1500 people, including many Jihad members, the Coptic Orthodox Pope, Bishop, and highly ranked clergy members, but also intellectuals and activists of all ideological stripes.

    The round up missed a Jihad cell in the military led by Lieutenant Khalid Islambouli, who succeeded in assassinating Anwar Sadat that October.

    The Muslim Brotherhood

    The Brotherhood’s stated goal is to instill the Qur’an and Sunnah as the “sole reference point for … ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community … and state”. Since its inception in 1928 the movement has officially opposed violent means to achieve its goals. Jeremy Bowen, BBC Middle East editor, calls it “conservative and non-violent,” and “poorly understood – especially in the West.”. The Brotherhood condemned terrorism and the 9/11 attacks, but whether or not it has ties to terrorism is a matter of dispute. The Brotherhood’s nonviolent stance has resulted in breakaway groups from the movement, including the Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya and Al Takfir Wal Hijra. Osama bin Laden has similarly criticized the Brotherhood, and accused it of betraying jihad and the ideals of Sayyid Qutb, an influential Brother member and author of Milestones.

    Most Egypt experts do not believe that Sadat was assassinated by the Muslin Brotherhood.

  • NadePaulKuciGravMcKi

    Do you like the world around you?
    Are you ready to behave?
    [patti smith]

    Israel thinks they own Egypt
    the US thinks they own Egypt

  • Anonymous

    I wasn’t alive to see tea thrown into Boston Harbor

    But I’m damn proud to be seeing this.

    This is the kind of scene our congressmen should see when they look out their fucking windows at the Capitol Building!!