The regime of Hosni Mubarak has responded to the protests by tens of thousands of protesters by shutting down access to mobile phones and the internet and access to the social networking tools used to coordinate the protests-- twitter and facebook.
Al Jazeera reports,
"About a half-hour past midnight on Friday in Egypt, the internet went dead.
Almost simultaneously, the handful of companies that pipe the internet into and out of Egypt went dark as protesters were gearing up for a fresh round of demonstrations calling for the end of president Hosni Mubarak's nearly 30-year rule, experts said.
Egypt has apparently done what many technologists thought was unthinkable for any country with a major internet economy: It unplugged itself entirely from the internet to try and silence dissent.
Experts say it is unlikely that what has happened in Egypt could happen in the United States because the US has numerous internet providers and ways of connecting to the internet. Co-ordinating a simultaneous shutdown would be a massive undertaking."
While other countries, like China and Iran have blocked parts of the internet, like specific websites, such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, it appears that the Egyptian leadership shut down all digital communications-- the entire internet and all mobile phones. Satellite phones, which are very costly and in rare use, except by government and corporate people and the wealthy, were still operating.
Apparently, taking Egypt "dark" and even killing several protesters has not stopped the young people who are energizing the protests from going out in the streets.
Mohamed El Baradei, UN nuclear inspector, is considered to be one possible leader who might replace Mubarak. He returned to Egypt and was "seen among the crowds, and then, prevented from moving, Iloubnan.info
reported also citing reports " The Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm also reported on twitter that "Police reportedly refuse to antagonize protesters in Alexandria"
Throughout the world, unity protests are being held.
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Demonstration in front of the Egyptian Consulat in Frankfurt today. ( Flickr Photo by 00Joshi
El Baradei has been released and has since participated in a march.
Mubarak has ordered curfews from 6 PM until 7 AM, until further notice, for major urban areas.
Al Jazeera reports that "the country wide violence has left seven dead so far.'
While the demonstrations are going strong and the outcry for Mubarak to leave is great, it is no certainty he will go. Al Jazeera reports, "
It is far from a foregone conclusion that the protesters will force Mubarak out. They face two key challenges, said Amon Aran, a Middle East expert at London's City University, told Reuters news agency.
"One is the Egyptian security apparatus, which over the years has developed a vested interest in the survival of President Mubarak's regime. This elaborate apparatus has demonstrated over the past few days that it is determined to crush political dissent," he said.
"Another obstacle derives from the fact that, so far, the protesters do not seem to form a coherent political opposition.
The popular outcry is loud and clear, but whether it can translate into a political force is questionable."
Authorities in Egypt should not seek to "suppress people's right to freedom of expression", British Foreign Secretary William Hague has said.
Fox News reports
that wikileaks cables show that under Obama the US has softened the pressure on Mubarak to move towards giving more human rights.
Besides Mubarak's power base, the main group with consolidated, organized power in Egypt is the Muslim Brotherhood, also called Gamat Islamiya. This is a fundamentalist group that would probably call for Koranic Sharia Law, like Iranian mullahs have. Gamat Islamiya has been known to torture, stab and rape Coptic Christian Egyptians because they are not Muslim.
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