"The Day of Departure"
by Patrick Appel
The Muslim Brotherhood has said it would not field a presidential candidate or seek ministers in a new cabinet, ABC reports. Christine Amanpour, who interviewed Mubarak yesterday, is interpreting the move as calculated to soothe western fears of an Islamist government succeeding Mubarak.
State TV has a split screen showing live shots of a pro-Mubarak rally on one side and the scene in Tahrir Square on the other. They describe the first as pro-stability and pro-dialogue and the latter as demanding political reforms. So, at the moment the two sides are busy with their separate rallies. The Tahrir Square crowd aren't going anywhere. Across town Mubarak's supporters are gathering.
In stark contrast to the scenes of chaotic street battles around the square over the previous two days, when opposition protesters successfully defended their encampment against attacks by regime supporters hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at them, the square was peaceful on Friday because Egypt's military set up checkpoints around the entrances to the square, frisking anyone who wanted to enter. People who want to join the demonstration are then required to pass through security checkpoints set up by the protesters themselves, who want to root out agitators.
Our correspondent in Cairo says pro-Mubarak gangs are not visible at all in the streets and that the army has taken extensive measures to secure the demonstration. She says imams, speaking in mosques today, have called for calm and praised the role of the army as it is working to prevent violence.
Al Jazeera English reports stone-throwing battles in side streets off Tahrir Square, beyond the anti-regime barricades, involving about 300 pro-Mubarak men. ...
The "scuffle" in Alexandria was some protesters telling others not to burn an effigy of President Mubarak. Al Jazeera's correspondent reports a "positive atmosphere" of people coming together. A wall of sound is heard as the chants continue after Friday Prayers. Meanwhile, even the regime-supporting Nile TV has shown aerial shots of the Tahrir Square gathering in Cairo.
The crisis is costing the country at least $310 million a day, the BBC reports. That’s according to an analysis from Credit Agricole bank, which revised its economic growth estimate for Egypt this year from 5.3 percent to 3.7 percent. There had already been an increase in food prices in the troubled country, considered a contributing factor in the demonstrations.
(Photo: Anti-government demonstrators gather in Tahrir Square on February 4, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt. Anti-government protesters have called today 'The day of departure'. Thousands have again gathered in Tahrir Square calling for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down. By Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images.)