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Updated: January 27, 2011 23:43 IST

Full-scale uprising in Egypt

Atul Aneja
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Democracy activist and former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei. File photo: AP.
Democracy activist and former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei. File photo: AP.

Observers say that Friday’s demonstrations are likely to be large because the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition group, which has so far stated away, has decided to join the proposed protests

The anti-government protests in Egypt which began on Tuesday have now snow-balled into a full-scale uprising, as ordinary Egyptians prepare for the long-haul to bring down the 30-year old dictatorship of President Hosni Mubarak.

The Egyptian revolt entered its third successive day on Thursday. Till day-break, young Egyptians fought sporadically with police, extending the spate of clashes which had peaked on Wednesday night. Major protests are now planned, following the afternoon Muslim prayers on Friday.

On Thursday, around 500 protesters clashed with police in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, which along with Cairo has emerged as a major flashpoint in the on-going anti-government rebellion.

The Egyptian daily Al Masry Al Youm, quoting eyewitnesses, reported on its website said that demonstrators on Thursday torched a police station, following up on the Wednesday night events, when a number of government buildings, as well as a ruling party office, had been set afire. Tensions are running high in the Suez area because of the killing of two protesters during clashes on Tuesday.

Police has found it hard to break marches, mainly because of its inability to counter the power of the social media networks.

Protesters on Wednesday, once scattered by police, still managed repeated confrontations, mainly by making skilful use for regrouping, of Facebook and Twitter, the social networking tools.

Facebook also appears to be playing a major role in organising protests on Friday. The call for the marches on Facebook was rapidly supported by 24,000 online users of the website. After being sporadically impaired earlier, Facebook and Twitter were functioning normally on Thursday.

Observers say that Friday’s demonstrations are likely to be large because the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition group, which has so far stated away, has decided to join the proposed protests. Besides, Mohamed ElBaradei, former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief, turned political reformist, is joining these demonstrations. Before his planned arrival in Cairo from Vienna late on Thursday, he explained in a Reuters interview, why the days of

Mr. Mubarak’s regime are, in his view, numbered. "People broke the culture of fear and once you break the culture of fear there’s no going back," he observed. However, analysts say that despite his established international stature, Mr. ElBaradei is not being welcomed by all, including many among the tech-savvy youngsters who have so far, with their cyber-activism, kept the protest movement so eminently afloat.

In its response to the Egyptian uprising, the government on Thursday pressed sedition charges on 42 protesters for trying to "overthrow the regime", al-Arabiya television reported. But, in a possible sign of softening, about 150 demonstrators detained during protests over the past two days have been released.

In the Egyptian capital, there has been considerable debate on the blunt statement emerging from U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, advising the Mubarak-regime to undertake comprehensive reforms. "We believe strongly that the Egyptian government has an important opportunity at this moment in time to implement political, economic and social reforms to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people," she said on Wednesday. Ms. Clinton also urged Cairo “not to prevent peaceful protests or block communications including on social media sites".

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