Babylon & Beyond

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EGYPT: Streets grew quiet as President Hosni Mubarak spoke

January 28, 2011 |  3:46 pm


Egyptians had been waiting most of the day to hear President Hosni Mubarak address the mass protests rocking Cairo and other cities.

Some hoped to hear about massive reforms. Others wondered whether Mubarak would step down. The moment came early Saturday, when a somber faced Mubarak, in black suit and tie, appeared on state television.

For just a moment, the protest near the October 6 Bridge in Cairo's center ground to a halt. Cars stopped in the middle of the road. People came running from all directions, crowding around radios to hear what Mubarak would say.

When he announced that he would replace the government, loud cheers erupted, drivers honked their horns and protesters waved their arms in victory. But when the president ended his speech shortly thereafter, without announcing any of the major reforms most had hoped for, the disappointment was palpable.

Chants for Mubarak to resign resumed. Protesters returned to the street in defiance of the state-ordered curfew. Rather than calm the tensions, his speech seemed only to energize the crowd, and it wasn’t long before smoke and tear gas choked the streets again.

— Edmund Sanders in Cairo


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Image: Egypt President Hosni Mubarak addresses the nation in Cairo on Friday. Credit: Nile TV