Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets across Egypt in the largest popular challenge to longtime President Hosni Mubarak since he came into office 30 years ago. Drawing inspiration from the recent uprising in Tunisia, an estimated crowd of 15,000 packed Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
Protester: "We’re tired. Stop the price hikes. We’re suffering. We’re Egyptians. We love Egypt, but stop this. We want to eat. We want to live. We want our children."
The demonstrators were forcibly removed at around 1:00 a.m. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets, filling the square with a cloud of smoke and sending protesters fleeing into nearby streets. Protests were also held in the port city of Alexandria and the northeastern city of Suez. Three demonstrators and one police officer were killed in the unrest. Speaking to Democracy Now!, Egyptian journalist Hossam el-Hamalawy linked the uproar against Mubarak to Tunisia’s recent overthrow of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Hossam el-Hamalawy: "Ordinary citizens, tens of thousands of them, in what could be considered the biggest demonstrations this country has witnessed since 1977, they took to the streets and clashed with the police, calling for the overthrow of Mubarak and drawing parallels between what’s happened in Egypt and what’s going on in Tunisia. We don’t have one Ben Ali only in the Arab world; we have 22 Ben Alis, and Mubarak is one of them. And the protesters are basically settled, and they want to see Mubarak go to the same place where Ben Ali has basically fled to, which is Jeddah in Saudi Arabia."
More protests had been scheduled for today, but the Egyptian government has imposed an order barring all public demonstrations. Earlier today, the Interior Ministry announced anyone taking part in protests or organizing them will be detained. The Egyptian government has also blocked access to the social networking site Twitter, which has been used to coordinate protests.