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Thousands Demonstrate in Egypt Calling for President Mubarak to Step Down

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Yesterday, thousands of Egyptians were in the streets of Cairo (and in other cities) demonstrating and marching against the regime of President Hosni Mubarak. Security forces in riot gear and wielding truncheons were opposite the protestors and some clashes occurred with some obviously bloodied. Smoke from tear gas canisters were seen in the midst of some clashes.

The demonstrators were there as a result of postings internet postings on Twitter and Facebook calling for people to mass in the streets and call for the ouster of Mubarak, the 30 year dictator. The people are keenly aware of what has transpired in Tunisia, with the overthrow of President Ben Ali and believe as one Egyptian protestor said, "If it can happen in Tunisia it can happen here."

Tuesday was a national holiday, ironically saluting the Egyptian police. But the people were not gathered to laud the police. The people (mostly in their 20's and 30's, but many both men and women obviously in their 40's, 50's and 60's) were not the usual fifty or sixty activist type demonstrators but "ordinary" Egyptians who were there venting their long, pent up frustrations over the abuses they suffered under the oppressive Mubarak regime.

The scene of the people marching and chanting was shown in a moving commentary by an Al Jazerra reporter who was recording the event live.

As of Wednesday morning, Al Jazerra reported the protests and some violent clashes in central Cairo continued into the night with security forces lobbing tear gas canisters and shooting rubber bullets into the crowds trying to disperse them.

It was being reported that three demonstrators are dead (from protests in the nearby port city of Suez) and one policeman died from being hit in the head by a rock thrown by a demonstrator.

Continued protests were being called for on the aforementioned internet sites. Meanwhile the Egyptian interior ministry has said it will crack down on demonstrators if they take to the streets.

As of mid-day Wednesday, the streets of Cairo remained "absolutely quiet." [1]        

Egypt is of course the largest Arab country with some 80 million people and 50% living at or near the "official" poverty line of $2 per day. Thus grinding poverty, rising food prices, massive unemployment (over 20%) and state sanctioned brutality (torture) by Mubarak has resulted in the peoples' anger and frustration boiling over in the streets.

Whether Mubarak and his regime will prevail and crush the peoples revolt or eventually crumble under their pressure, it is certainly too early to tell.

Stay tuned.

[1] For the latest updates on the protests in Egypt go the internet website Al Jazerra/English.

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