Updates on Day 10 of Egypt ProtestsBy ROBERT MACKEY
On Thursday, The Lede continues to provide updates on the street protests in Egypt. For a summary of the latest developments, read the current report from our colleagues in Cairo. Updates below mix alerts on breaking news and reports from bloggers and journalists posted on other news sites and social networks. A stream of Twitter updates on the protests is in this blog’s right column. Readers can share information in the comment thread below or send photographs or video from Egypt to email@example.com.
7:32 P.M. Counting the Hours to a ‘Day of Departure’
Here is a video report from my colleagues in Egypt on Thursday’s events:
It is about 2:30 a.m. in Egypt now, as protesters and the Mubark regime brace for the dawning of another day of protest. Earlier in the week, government opponents designated Friday as President Mubarak’s “Day of Departure.” We are signing off for the evening but The Lede will return to continue live blog coverage of Friday’s protests. Visit the NYTimes.com home page for news of any developments in the meantime.
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7:18 P.M. What Government-Approved News Looks Like in Egypt
In the absence of foreign media reports, what sort of information are Egyptians getting about the events unfolding in their country? One blogger’s photograph of the front page of Thursday’s edition of Al Ahram, a government-owned newspaper which reported that what appeared to other journalists to be thousands of Mubarak supporters rallying on Wednesday was, in fact, “millions.”
Regular readers of The Lede will recall that last September the same newspaper was caught performing major Photoshop surgery on an image of President Hosni Mubarak at the White House for Middle East peace talks.
Here is a photograph of the way Mr. Mubarak entered a White House briefing beside and slightly behind Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
Here is the far more flattering photograph of Mr. Mubarak at the head of the pack Al Ahram presented to its readers as a record of the event:
For a sense of the mood at the rallies in support of Mr. Mubarak this week, here is video posted online by Al Jazeera of the crowd at one gathering, which appeared to include a number of uniformed police officers:
6:51 P.M. Clinton Condemns Attacks in Egypt
The State Department has posted this video of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s condemnation of the attacks on journalists, human rights activists and protester in Egypt on Thursday:
6:45 P.M. Call From a Detained Human Rights Activst’s Phone
About two hours after the arrest of Dan Williams, a Human Rights Watch researcher in Cairo, was reported on Thursday, Abeer Allam, a Saudi-based Financial Times correspondent, wrote on Twitter:
Got a call from Human Rights Watch’s Dan Williams’ mobile at 2:30 Egypt, but there was silence on [the] other side.
Emma Daly of Human Rights Watch wrote on her Twitter feed a few minutes ago: “HRW’s Dan Williams still detained with other activists. Free them now – arrests won’t silence us.”
6:10 P.M. Egyptian Bloggers Continue to Report From Cairo Square
While international broadcasters were forced to cut off live transmissions of video showing the area around Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square, where thousands of protesters remain, despite attacks from regime supporters, Egyptian bloggers and activists have continued to document events there themselves, using Twitter to file text updates and photo-sharing services to upload images.
Over the past hour, Mosa’ab Elshamy, writing on Twitter as @mosaaberizing, filed these telegraphic updates on the defense of the square:
Waves of thugs approaching from different entrances now.
Secured all entrances once again.
Things back to normal for now in Tahrir. Relax.
There are 7 routes leading to Tahrir square. We set up barricades and numerous lines of defence on everyone. Hundreds patrolling.
The largest and most crucial of these entrances are Asr El Nil and Abd El Meneim Reyad (October bridge). Constant clashes there.
Abdel Meneim Reyad is where most of the martyrs fell. Snipers occupy roofs and thugs come from the bridge then attack us down.
The toughest attacks were yesterday and still failed. Everything else today fades in comparison. We’re doing great, really.
In a series of Twitter updates on Thursday, Ms. Seif provided a running commentary on events in the square. In one of her most recent notes, she urged her readers to turn out for what the protesters hope will be a decisive mass demonstration on Friday, writing: “Join us tomorrow at Tahrir Square, let us win back our country.”
About 24 hours earlier, in an emotional interview with Al Jazeera English from the square, Ms. Seif had described the attacks on the protesters and their determination to continue their resistance. Speaking on Wednesday night, over the sound of gunfire, Ms. Seif told the broadcaster by phone:
We are not leaving this place till Mubarak leaves. So there are only two options for the world to do: either they stick to Mubarak and his regime, and you lose thousands of people in this square – and it does not definitely become the Liberation Square, it becomes the Massacre Square, or whatever you want to call it – or they put an end to the Mubarak regime and give these people, the remaining people here, a chance at living a good life.
Ms. Seif’s brother, Alaa Abd El Fattah, a well-known blogger, is also in the square and is also reporting on it on his @alaa Twitter feed. About four hours ago, after both Mr. Mubarak’s prime minister and vice president said on Egyptian television that they want dialogue with the protesters, he wrote:
They are still shooting at us from the bridge lots injured, yet the government pretends it wants dialog.
Mr. Raoof also uploaded these two clips to YouTube on Thursday, of what he said was a demonstration in Tahrir Square on Thursday morning and an interrogation of a captured regime supporter, who told the protesters holding him that he had been paid 50 Egyptian pounds, less than $10, to attack them:
On Thursday morning, the blogger who writes on Twitter as @Sandmonkey, asked fellow activists for advice on the best way in to Tahrir Square, since he planned to bring medical supplies to the protesters there.
Hours later, after a long silence that provioked anxiety among his friends and readers, the blogger reported that he had been detained but eventually released. He wrote:
I am ok. I got out. I was ambushed & beaten by the police, my phone confiscated , my car ripped apart & supplies taken. Will tell the story later . Thank you all. I just need to rest now….
Please don’t respond to my phone or BBM. This isn’t me. My phone was confiscated by a thug of an officer who insults those who call.
Gigi Ibrahim, a blogger and activist, has continued to provide text and photos from her BlackBerry of the protesters’ defense of the square.
On Thursday afternoon, she uploaded this photograph of a barricade across the Kasr al-Nil Bridge entrance to Tahrir Square to Yfrog:
On Thursday night Ms. Ibrahim wrote on her @Gsquare86 Twitter feed:
Tomorrow marks a week since we were bombarded with Mubarak’s police tear gas & bullets, 100s died, so let us continue the fight for them.
Head to Tahrir as early as you can tomorrow, we want to give them a day of rage like they have given us days of violence & injustices.
I am so exhausted in every way possible, but I can’t shut my eyes in peace knowing that Mubarak is still in power.
It has not, apparently, escaped the attention of regime supporters that the activists have been using Twitter to communicate and mobilize support. Several of the activist bloggers reported in recent days that apparently new accounts – like this one – have been set up on the social network by people who spend their day sending critical messages to the activists through the network.
Wael Abbas, a well-known blogger and journalist, wrote on Thursday that he had discovered, “lots of fake Twitter accounts each has only 5 followers and 5 tweets,” and they all seem to carry the same message to the protesters: telling them that they should be ashamed of themselves.
4:33 P.M. Video of Clashes in Cairo on Thursday Afternoon
This Channel 4 News video gives an idea of the scale of confrontations around Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Thursday afternoon, before Egyptian authorities shut down live television coverage of stone-throwing regime supporters attacking opposition protesters in central Cairo:
3:33 P.M. Mubarak Tells ABC News He Must Remain to Prevent Chaos
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told Christiane Amanpour of ABC News on Thursday that although he is “fed up” with leading Egypt, he feels obliged to remain in office to prevent chaos from engulfing his country.
After her interview at the presidential palace in Cairo, Ms. Amanpour reported on ABC’s Web site:
He told me that he is troubled by the violence we have seen in Tahrir Square over the last few days but that his government is not responsible for it. Instead, he blamed the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned political party here in Egypt. He said he’s fed up with being president and would like to leave office now, but cannot, he says, for fear that the country would sink into chaos.
I asked President Mubarak about the violence that his supporters launched against the anti-government protesters in Liberation Square. He told me, “I was very unhappy about yesterday. I do not want to see Egyptians fighting each other.”
Ms. Amanpour, who spoke to Mr. Mubarak in the presence of his son, Gamal, said that she asked Egyptian leader “how he responded to the United States’ veiled calls for him to step aside sooner rather than later.” In reply, he said that he told President Obama: “You don’t understand the Egyptian culture and what would happen if I step down now.”
Here is Ms. Amanpour discussing her interview with the president, which will be broadcast on ABC News on Thursday evening:
3:05 P.M. Dozens of Attacks on Jounalists in Egypt
My colleagues David Kirkpatrick and David Goodman have updated information on the large number of attacks on journalists in Egypt. They report:
Security forces and gangs chanting in favor of the Egyptian government hunted down journalists at their offices and in the hotels where many had taken refuge on Thursday in a widespread and overt campaign of intimidation aimed at suppressing reports from the capital.
By evening, it appeared that none of the major broadcasters were able to provide live footage of Tahrir Square, the epicenter of antigovernment protests. [...]
The Washington Post said its Cairo bureau chief and a photographer who had been detained were released by Thursday evening. But two other employees — a translator and a driver — remained in custody. Two reporters working for The New York Times were released on Thursday after being detained overnight in Cairo.
The White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, strongly rebuked the Mubarak government and its supporters, calling the harassment of journalists “completely and totally unacceptable.” Speaking to reporters traveling with the president, he said that “any journalist that has been detained should be released immediately.”
ABC News has complied a very long list detailing about 40 incidents in which reporters have been “threatened, attacked or detained while reporting in Egypt” in the past few days.
After Egypt’s new vice president, the intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, blamed the unrest “foreign interference,” Jon Williams, the BBC’s foreign editor, wrote on Twitter: “Intimidation of journalists in Cairo on scale not seen anywhere for years – reporters attacked, equipment seized. VP blaming media unhelpful.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists, listed more than a dozen journalistswho had been harassed and placed the blame for the crackdown squarely on the shoulders of the Mubarak regime:
Government officials, pro-government journalists, and commentators loyal to Mubarak have for the past two days been engaged in a systematic campaign to present foreigners, and particularly foreign journalists, as spies. CPJ has documented at least seven instances on state-owned television or on private stations owned by businessmen loyal to Mubarak in which individuals described elaborate foreign plots to destabilize Egypt that centered on foreign provocateurs, including journalists. In several instances, they were described as “Israeli spies.” In one instance, a woman whose face was obscured “confessed” to having been trained by “Americans and Israelis.” She went on to say that the alleged training took place in Qatar, where Al Jazeera is based.
The CPJ also reported:
Multiple journalists for state-owned or government-aligned media have resigned or have refused to work after the government put pressure on them to sanitize the news or to not report on violence against demonstrators, several CPJ sources said. Shahira Amin, an anchor on the state-owned Nile TV channel, said on the air: “I refuse to be a hypocrite. I feel liberated.”
Among the recent attacks, was one against Associated Press Television News journalists by men wielding sticks who seized a satellite dish, which was eventually recovered. “The situation was quickly defused,” according to a spokesman for The Associated Press, Paul Colford. “No one was injured.”
Sonia Verma, a correspondent for Canada’s Globe and Mail who was held for three hours by Egyptian soldiers, wrote on her Twitter feed after her release:
We were detained with other foreigners. About twenty five. Including other journalists. Soldiers finally let us free.
What’s worse about being detained three hours by Egyptian army? Watching a four-year-old girl being detained with you even longer.
2:21 P.M. Hilton Asks Journalists Not to Film Cairo Protests
As The Lede reported in our 11:22 a.m. update, Jon Williams, the BBC News foreign editor, reported on Twitter on Thursday: “Egyptian security seize BBC equipment at Cairo Hilton in attempt to stop us broadcasting.”
The Ramses Hilton in Cairo has been one of the main vantage points for journalists filming battle between Mubarak supporters and antigovernment protesters in Tahrir Square, my colleague Liz Heron reports. She adds that Hilton Hotels has come under fire on social networks on Thursday for allowing Egyptian authorities and regime supporters to prevent journalists from doing their jobs.
Hilton responded to the criticism in a statement distributed in small piecesvia Twitter, which read:
Due to the gravity, immediacy and dynamic nature of the situation in Cairo, our hotel is implementing measures to ensure the safety and security of our guests and employees, as this remains our highest priority. These measures include a request not to film from the property due to the threat this poses to the reporters themselves as well as others on property. We appreciate your understanding and support during these challenging circumstances.
2:00 P.M. Barricades Reportedly Holding in Tahrir Square
While the BBC, like other international broadcasters, is now being prevented from broadcasting live video of the street battles around Cairo’s Tahrir Square, one of its correspondents, Jim Muir continues to report from the square for the BBC live blog on the crisis. Mr. Muir reported about 15 minutes ago:
There are many thousands of people still in the square, chanting slogans. It looks relatively peaceful, but further away to the north there is still a tense situation going one. Crowds of protesters are pressing forward. They have pushed Mubarak supporters off two overpasses. They are only about 50 meters [55 yards] apart and there are only a small number of soldiers keeping them apart. But the situation has stabilized in the rest of the square because the protesters have managed to assemble some pretty menacing barricades.
12:45 P.M. More Opposition Protesters Reported in Cairo Square
Minutes ago, Ivan Watson of CNN reported that regime supporters continued to attack opposition protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square even as Egypt’s vice president, Omar Suleiman, said on Egyptian state television that the government would launch an investigation to try to determine who had organized those attacks.
Mr. Watson added that the protesters have expanded the area they control around the square as reinforcements have arrived to swell their numbers in central Cairo.
This video report from Britain’s Channel 4 News showed some of the ongoing clashes between several hundred stone-throwing regime supporters and opposition protesters earlier on Thursday:
12:21 P.M. Egypt’s New Vice President Urges Protesters to Go Home
In a live interview on Egypt’s state-owned Nile Television moments ago, Omar Suleiman, the country’s vice president and intelligence chief, just urged young Egyptians to end their protests and give the Mubarak regime a chance to implement changes to the country’s constitution ahead of presidential elections in September. Mr. Suleiman claimed that the government had already met the demand for change and said that the elections would be held in “less than 200 days.”
12:15 P.M. Human Rights Watch Researcher Detained in Cairo
Human Rights Watch reports that one of its researchers in Cairo, Daniel Williams, was detained by Egyptian security forces on Thursday. According to a statement from the rights group:
Williams was one of several international and Egyptian human rights activists picked up in a raid on the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, including a researcher for Amnesty International. Human Rights Watch is endeavoring to contact Williams in custody and secure his release.
Williams’ detention is part of a clear campaign against independent eyewitnesses of the violence in Egypt, including journalists and civil society activists. Human Rights Watch condemned the crackdown and called on the Egyptian government to release those detained immediately.
The offices of the law center were raided by police and army personnel. The human rights monitors were interrogated in the office before being taken away in a microbus. As they were taken away they were insulted by a group, apparently government supporters, who had gathered in the street.
Human Rights Watch is currently unaware of the whereabouts of those who were detained.
Ahdaf Soueif, a novelist whose brother-in-law is a lawyer at the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, told The Arabist, a Cairo-based blog on Thursday:
Good friend just saw 8 to 12 people being dragged out of No 1 Souq el-Tawfikiyyah St. and bundled into a civilian microbus while a military police vehicle waited nearby.
The people were being beaten and the street had been told they were “Iranian and Hamas agents come to destabilize Egypt,” so the street was chanting against them. No 1 Souq el-Tawfikiyyah St. is the home of the offices of the Hisham Mubarak Legal Aid Center, the Center for Social and Economic Rights and the April 6 Youth.
Ms. Soueif has also been filing vivid first-hand reports on the protests for The Guardian.
As The Lede reported on Wednesday night, the April 6 Youth is a solidarity group of young Egyptian bloggers and Facebook activists founded in 2008 to support protests.
Friends of one of the group’s founders, Ahmed Maher, told Wired magazineby email on Wednesday that he had been arrested.
For more on the April 6 Youth, read this 2009 New York Times Magazine article by Samantha Shapiro.
12:00 P.M. Obama Envoy’s Lobbying Firm Tied to Mubarak Regime
As the United States continues to press Egyptian officials to begin the “orderly transition” President Barack Obama called for on Tuesday night, more attention is being paid to Frank Wisner, the retired American diplomat who met with Hosni Mubarak on behalf of the administration this week.
In my colleague Sheryl Gay Stolberg’s profile of Mr. Wisner, she reported that the 72-year-old retired ambassador and businessman trusted with this delicate mission “joined the lobbying firm Patton Boggs” two years ago.
As the Mideast Wire blog noted on Tuesday, Mr. Wisner’s lobbying firm has worked on behalf of the Egyptian government for two of the three decades Mr. Mubarak has been in power.
According to a description of the lobbying firm’s experience in Egypt on its Web site:
Patton Boggs has been active in Egypt for 20 years. We have advised the Egyptian military, the Egyptian Economic Development Agency, and have handled arbitrations and litigation on the government’s behalf in Europe and the U.S. Our attorneys also represent some of the leading Egyptian commercial families and their companies, and we have been involved in oil and gas and telecommunications infrastructure projects on their behalf. One of our partners also served as the Chairman of the U.S.-Egyptian Chamber of Commerce, promoting foreign direct investment into targeted sectors of the Egyptian economy. We have also handled negotiation of offset agreements and managed contractor disputes in military sales agreements arising under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales Act.
11:22 A.M. BBC Equipment Seized by Egyptian Government
Jon Williams, the BBC News foreign editor, reported on Twitter 20 minutes ago: “Egyptian security seize BBC equipment at Cairo Hilton in attempt to stop us broadcasting.”
In his two previous updates on Thursday, Mr. Williams had written:
In Cairo locked down inside Ramses Hilton. Frontline on doorstep – Army say pro-Mubarak supporters told to target reporters.
Mubarak supporters stormed hotels in Cairo, chasing foreign journalists. Army now securing Hilton hotel.
11:14 A.M. Arab League Calls for Investigation of Cairo Violence
Amr Moussa, the secretary general of the Arab League and a former foreign minister of Egypt, called for an investigation of the violence in Cairo on Wednesday. The independent Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reported:
The Arab League called Thursday for an investigation of the clashes downtown in Tahrir Square on Wednesday night among protesters calling on Mubarak to step down and others supporting him. Violence broke out in the afternoon and lasted into the early morning, leaving at least eight dead and scores injured.
“What happened in Tahrir raises many questions and requires investigation,” said Amr Moussa, Arab League secretary general. “Not containing the situation quickly harms Egypt’s interests and image internationally and will consequently lead to more disruption in Egypt and the whole region.”
Moussa asserted the “necessity of not harming protesters.”
The newspaper added that Mr. Moussa seemed to back the Egyptian government line that President Hosni Mubarak’s announcement that he would leave office after September elections this year meant that the transition in Egypt has already begun.
10:57 A.M. Video Report Shows Tahrir Square’s Makeshift Jail
An Al Jazeera English video report, posted online about an hour ago, shows the scene inside Cairo’s besieged Tahrir Square, where opposition protesters remain in control and have even pushed back rock-throwing regime supporters. The report also includes an interview with a protest organizer inside the square, video from Egyptian television of Egypt’s newly-appointed prime minister addressing Wednesday’s violence there and several captured regime supporters in a makeshift jail set up by the protesters.
Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times Op-Ed columnist reported by Twitterfrom the square about 40 minutes ago:
Small jail set up in Tahrir for thugs and infiltrators with weapons. Best organization I’ve seen in Egypt.
10:35 A.M. More Journalists Attacked and Detained in Egypt
My colleague David Kirkpatrick reports from Cairo that the Egyptian government’s effort to stifle reporting on the antigovernment protests appears to be intensifying:
Many journalists covering the protests in Egypt were detained and attacked on Thursday, and human rights groups were also a target, in what appeared to be an escalating effort to block reports on the violence.
The Egyptian security forces were rounding up workers for human rights groups as well as foreign journalists, witnesses in Cairo said. Security police raided the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, where many nongovernmental organizations operate. They ordered people there to lie on the floor and disabled their mobile phones. Two people were being interrogated. The state news agency Thursday has asked foreign press to evacuate all the hotels near Tahrir Square.
The Committee to Protect Journalists was investigating at least 10 cases of reporters being detained on Thursday. The government told the journalists that they were not being arrested but rather taken into “protective custody,” according to the group.
Several news organizations reported that their journalists had been attacked or detained on Wednesday in Cairo and Alexandria.
In a video report filed late Wednesday, members of Egypt’s security police were filmed taking a BBC correspondent, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, and his crew into custody just minutes after they had left the home of a Mubarak adviser, Maged Botros. Mr. Wingfield-Hayes said that the BBC team was blindfolded and detained for several hours before being released.
Adding to the impression that the crew’s arrest was orchestrated by the government was the fact that, just before they were stopped by the police, as they left the Mubarak adviser’s home, the had been surrounded by regime supporters decrying their coverage of the protests.
Al Jazeera, whose coverage of the protests led the Egyptian government to push its broadcasts off the air and make it very difficult for its reporters to work, reported on its Web site that even shooting images from high-rise hotel rooms near Cairo’s Tahrir Square is increasingly difficult:
Spotters stand outside many hotels, watching balconies with high-powered binoculars. When they see balconies with camera equipment or photographers, they use radios to call in the details.
Egyptian police sources say that information from those spotters has been used to conduct several raids on journalists’ hotel rooms in recent days.
And the government has reportedly pressured several hotels not to extend the reservations of foreign journalists.
But most of the intimidation and violence has come from unofficial sources: Young men loiter outside the hotels where many reporters are staying, shouting at (and sometimes attacking) anyone with equipment.
Hotel lobbies are filled with journalists and camera crews wearing bandages, and many have been restricted to watching the events in Tahrir Square from their hotel balconies.
Egyptian state television has actively tried to foment the unrest by reporting that “Israeli spies” have infiltrated the city – which explains why many of the gangs who attack reporters shout “yehudi!” (“Jew!”).
The area around Tahrir Square has become a virtual no-go zone for camera crews, which were assaulted on Wednesday almost as soon as they entered the area controlled by supporters of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
Several of them were mistaken for Al Jazeera crews, and were chased off by young men wielding sticks and chanting, “Jazeera! Jazeera!”.
My colleague David Goodman adds that Al Arabiya, a Saudi-owned Arab broadcaster which has not been as critical of Egypt’s government as Al Jazeera, said on Thursday that its journalists in Egypt have been attacked by supporters and opponents of the Mubarak regime:
In a telephone interview from Dubai, Nakhle El Hage, director of news for Al Arabiya, described a dangerous environment for journalists everywhere in Cairo.
“The crews have never been as scared as they are now,” he said. “I have correspondents who covered Lebanon and Gaza, but this is a different experience.”
“We were targeted yesterday and today” by both pro-Mubarak and antigovernment protesters he said, and at least six correspondents had been physically hurt.
At least one attack occurred after someone spread a rumor among religious opponents of the government that Al Arabiya agreed with President Hosni Mubarak, he said.
One reporter for the network was beaten so badly by pro-Mubarak demonstrators that he is still in the hospital, though his condition is not critical, Mr. El Hage said.
“Today, many demonstrators were trying to Al Arabiya offices. They destroyed some equipment outside the building and they said they would come in and destroy everything”
The television station Al Arabiya was forced to issue an on-camera plea to the Egyptian army to intervene after its headquarters in Cairo came under sustained attack from pro-Mubarak demonstrators. “They destroyed some equipment outside the building, and they said they would come in and destroy everything,” said Mr. El Hage. The army responded by deploying more men, securing the building, he said.
9:23 A.M. Regime Text Messages Seemed to Encourage Clashes
Since regime supporters appeared on the streets of Cairo in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Egyptian bloggers have been passing around photographs of text messages received on mobile phone across Egypt, calling on young people to stay off the streets and encouraging “Egypt’s honest and loyal men to confront the traitors and criminals” protesting for President Hosni Mubarak to step down.
One Egyptian blogger, who writes as ElFoulio, posted this image of two messages received on Wednesday, which read:
The armed forces is keen on your security and safety and will not use force against this great people.
A huge protest will start Wednesday afternoon in Mustapha Mahmoud Square in Mohandisseen to support President Mubarak.
The translations of the texts also appear to suggest that different messages were sent to different phones, perhaps indicating that the Egyptian government has specific information on each mobile owner. One message, apparently sent to suspected protesters, reads: “Youth of Egypt, beware rumors and listen to the sound of reason – Egypt is above all so preserve it.”
Another message, seeking to rally regime supporters, read: “The Armed Forces asks Egypt’s honest and loyal men to confront the traitors and criminals and protect our people and honor and our precious Egypt.”
My colleague David Goodman reports that a British phone company with a network in Egypt has acknowledged transmitting the messages:
The mobile phone service provide Vodafone acknowledged being forced to send out messages, in what appeared to be an escalating information war.
Vodafone said in a statement posted online it had protested the messages, which were sent by the Egyptian government under a provision of the mobile operator’s contract.
“Under the emergency powers provisions of the Telecoms Act, the Egyptian authorities can instruct the mobile networks of Mobinil, Etisalat and Vodafone to send messages to the people of Egypt,” the company said in a statement. “They have used this since the start of the protests. These messages are not scripted by any of the mobile network operators and we do not have the ability to respond to the authorities on their content.”
“Vodafone Group has protested to the authorities that the current situation regarding these messages is unacceptable,” the company said.
8:55 A.M. Video of Cairo’s Besieged Tahrir Square
Video posted online by an Al Jazeera Web producer shows that opposition protesters remain in control of the entrance points to Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square on Thursday morning, and have set up barricades to defend their position against regime supporters in front of the Egyptian Museum (a pink building):
This Associated Press video report posted online recently shows protesters manning barricades the besieged square in the early hours of Thursday, as regime supporters hurled rocks and flaming Molotov cocktails at them and the Egyptian military allowed the confrontations to continue throughout the night:
Gunshots have also been fired sporadically and at least five people were killed and more than 800 wounded in the battle for the square, which continues to unfold in front of satellite news channels.
A BBC live blog devoted to the crisis also includes live broadcasts from Cairo. The Al Jazeera English YouTube channel has a live feed of its broadcast from Cairo. Here is a raw video feed of the square from MSNBC’s Web site:
For a better idea of the layout of the square, where protesters demanding that President Hosni Mubarak step down immediately are defending 12 entrances with improvised shields and rocks made from broken paving stones, click on the diagram below to see the complete version of this map, produced by The New York Times graphics desk:
The Times bureau chief in Cairo, David Kirkpatrick, has filed an updated report on the unfolding situation and another colleague on the ground in the Egyptian capital, Anthony Shadid, has written an analysis of the impact of the protests in Egypt on the wider Arab world.