We are one million today and not leaving, says protester

By Rahul Dass, IANS
Friday, February 4, 2011

NEW DELHI/CAIRO - The tens of thousands massed in downtown Cairo will not leave until Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak quits, one of the protesters at the site said in an interview.

Speaking to IANS from Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the anti-Mubarak campaign that has enveloped Egypt, Mohammed Yahia said the demonstrators were determined not to give up — come what may.

“We estimate that there are one million people at this square today,” the Egyptian journalist said on telephone, the line getting cut repeatedly.

“It is peaceful inside the square. Nobody has attacked (anyone). There are lots of (military) trucks in the vicinity,” he said, adding that the troops were preventing people from entering the sprawling ground.

He said that Friday’s show of strength was the second biggest mass protest since Tuesday’s million strong march in Cairo, forcing Mubarak to say for the first time that he was ready to go — but not now.

But Yahia said that the demonstrators wanted him out — and now.

“We are still here. I have spoken to many protesters. And we are not leaving,” he said, echoing popular sentiment among those seeking the exit of Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt since 1981.

“We will stay here as long as it takes,” he added.

Friday has been declared the “day of departure” for Mubarak, who in turn warned of chaos if he stepped down now.

Yahia said he was not sure if the sea of anti-Mubarak crowds would march to the presidential palace Friday.

“This is not confirmed yet,” he said. “The army is there. The protesters are being protected.”

(Rahul Dass can be contacted at rahul.d@ians.in)

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