Protester's Street-Level View Of Egypt's Unrest

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Host Scott Simon tells the story of the continuing protests in Egypt through the eyes of one protester, Omar Mohamad, an engineering teacher at Cairo University.


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News, I'm Scott Simon.

Thousands of demonstrators have gathered in downtown Cairo for a fifth day today calling for an end to the regime of President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for 30 years.

(Soundbite of protestors).

SIMON: Fraudulent, illegitimate, the chant of anti-Mubarak protestors today. Late last night Mr. Mubarak spoke on Egyptian national television ending days of silence as protests continued to build. He dismissed his cabinet and pledged to support freedom of expression, quote, "So long as it in within the parameters of the law." Here he is speaking through an interpreter.

President HOSNI MUBARAK (Egypt): (Through Translator) I have requested the government to step down today, and I will designate a new government - a new government as of tomorrow to shoulder new duties and to account for the priorities of the upcoming era.

SIMON: President Mubarak promised to address the demands of the protestors, but he made it clear that he intends to try to stay in power. And those words apparently haven't satisfied those who are still protesting on the streets of Cairo and in other cities.

Omar Mohamad teaches engineering at Cairo University, and yesterday he joined the throngs in the streets.

Professor OMAR MOHAMAD (Engineering, Cairo University): All people were out. You see little girls, you see old men, you see illiterate people, you see like high (unintelligible) people. Rich, poor, everybody was there. So it gave me the feeling that for the first time thereabout to smell the breeze of freedom.

SIMON: Omar Mohamad says Egyptians are ready for real change.

Mr. MOHAMAD: Tomorrow, the Egyptian people will not be the same as the Egyptian people of yesterday. They are different people. So I think it's about time to start thinking of how to try gain back our dignity, gain back our place, gain back our life.

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