on Friday, and opposition leader and Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed
ElBaradei was doused by a water cannon before escaping the swinging
batons of riot police and taking cover in a
Late in the day, army tanks and trucks flowed into
but it was ignored by many protesters, who remained in the streets well
after dark. Sounds of gunfire could also be heard in downtown
The chaos was a visceral sign that the government of
Mubarak would confront even peaceful marches with tough, rapid force,
including firing tear gas and concussion grenades. ElBaradei, who had
been trying to lead a demonstration when he was forced inside, called
the tactics “barbaric” and condemned the government for using “inhumane
As he sat shaken and drenched, his eyes stinging
from tear gas, Elbaradei, 68, said protesters had called for nonviolent
change, “but I think that opportunity is over. It’s now the people
versus the thugs.”
He added it was “time for the international
community to express its view on the so-called stability of the
Egyptian government. If they don’t do that now, they will lose the
residue of credibility they have in
Thousands of protesters swarmed streets and
boulevards of the capital, battling police on bridges as tear gas
canisters popped overhead and hissed, splashing into the
Rocks and stones peppered the air as protesters covered their eyes with
scarves and breathed in the odor from onions to block the scent of the
tear gas. By late afternoon, streams of protesters from all directions
of the capital flowed toward
“The police are trying to kill this protest as
quickly as they can because they know they can’t win in a long war with
the people,” said a protester,
As tear-gas canisters bounced over the pavement,
“I was born under Mubarak, and it seems I might die
while he’s still in power,” he said. “But, God willing, this protest
will be endless.”
Throughout the day, the protesters smashed armored
police vehicles and battled authorities for hours. Television footage
broadcast across the Arab world showed protesters in
The protesters demand an end to Mubarak’s rule,
which they describe as corrupt, economically unjust and repressive.
“The people want the fall of the regime,” they chanted in one piece of
footage as they swarmed a major thoroughfare in what appeared to be
Earlier footage posted to the Internet, said to have been filmed in
“Leave, leave, Mubarak; Mubarak, the plane awaits you,” they chanted, in reference to the
flight of former Tunisian dictator Zine el-Abidine ben Ali, whose
ouster after weeks of protests has inspired other demonstrations across
the Arab world.
Mubarak’s regime has responded to the a string of
protests this week with mostly non-lethal but brutal force, and by
clamping down on the Internet..
The protesters have used social media websites such
as Facebook and Twitter to organize rallies and YouTube to publicize
them. Contacts in
described a total shutdown of the Internet on Friday as well as the
jamming of satellite news channels such as al-Jazeera, which have
broadcast footage of the protests.
Activists also said land phone lines in some neighborhoods of
“Internet is blocked. Phone lines have been cut,” one activist in
said on his Facebook page. “All major squares are armed with security.
Security (is) preventing people from protesting, using heavy force.
We’re at war. … We’re at war.”
By all accounts, it has been a day unlike any
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