Egyptian Protesters Disgusted Mubarak Won't Resign

Protesters in Cairo waved their shoes in the air, as an act of contempt, after President Hosni Mubarak announced Thursday night that he would be staying in office. Protesters are planning another day of anti-government demonstrations Friday.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

Protesters in Cairo waved their shoes in the air last night. That's an insult in the Arab world. And it was directed at President Hosni Mubarak who had just announced that he had every intention of staying in office.

Let's go now to NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro. She's in Cairo.

Lourdes, where are you exactly?

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, where I am, exactly, is at a new protest site thats developed overnight. This is in front of the Television Building. This is where the state broadcaster has its sort of seat, if you will. And a break-away group from Tahrir Square has come here.

Theyve also moved to other places in the capital, like the Presidential Palace. Theyve already been in from of Parliament for a few days. And they're trying to push themselves out of the square to increase their visibility and increase the pressure on the Hosni Mubarak regime.

I am with a protestor here right now. His name is Mohammad Sabr(ph). He's 30 years old and an English teacher. And here he is.

Mr. MOHAMMAD SABR (English Teacher): We are here to deliver a message. The message is: We are not quitting. We are staying the course and we were not fooled by yesterday's speech. The speech offered nothing new. It was bland and it came to the disappointment of millions of Egyptians.

INSKEEP: Did you expect the president to resign when the speech began?

Mr. SABR: Of course I expected him to resign. I was waiting for the words: I resign, I quit for the sake of the Egyptian people.

We've heard media reports from almost every channel on Earth that President Mubarak is quitting. And finally, I was listening to his speech and he was like, I am putting in a committee that would report to me. I was like, to you? How come? You are not quitting? And I kept waiting for the word quit to come in but it never did. So he was not quitting.

INSKEEP: Mr. Sabr, one of the reasons that so many people thought that Mubarak might resign yesterday was that the military made itself very prominent. There was a meeting of a Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. There were statements made, vague statements made by the military, as also as well more specific promises of demands being met.

Are you hoping that the military will step in - will push Mubarak aside? Would that be something you would favor?

Mr. SABR: Of course thats something I would favor. It's going to save a lot of hassle. This country needs to move on and needs to move on now. And what President Mubarak does not understand is now means now.

INSKEEP: Do you trust the military though?

Mr. SABR: Yeah, I do. I mean there is a lot of respect here, a mutual respect and understanding between the Egyptian people and the military. You know, I heard one protestor today, like one leader of the protestors, saying that as long as the military is guarding any premises or any place, we are not going in.

We respect the military and we're going to listen to them.

INSKEEP: Are they guarding the TV station, the TV studios?

Mr. SABR: Yeah, more heavily guarded than any other place I've ever seen since the whole thing broke out.

INSKEEP: Why did you decide to go to the TV studios, of all places?

Mr. SABR: From my background, I know that the Television Building is very important to any regime. Once you take the Television Building, means the regime is down. It's like the last straw.

INSKEEP: Do you want to take the Television Building there?

Mr. SABR: Well, for the time being, because the army is protecting it, we are not going to go in. We're just protesting outside, peacefully. And we want to make it clear that it is a peaceful demonstration. So we are not going in as long as the military is protecting the area.

INSKEEP: Thank you very much for speaking with us. Could you hand the phone back to Lourdes Garcia-Navarro?

Hi, Lourdes. Good to talk with you again.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Hi.

INSKEEP: So what is happening now as the scene has been developing there outside the television building in Cairo?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, what you're seeing really here, as Mohammad Sabre was mentioning, is there is a great deal of military presence - a lot of armored personnel carriers, a lot of tanks, and actually mounted machine guns manned by soldiers on the periphery of the television building itself.

And what the protestors are doing are stopping people from going in and out. So you're seeing the state broadcaster not being able to - they have to apologize this morning for not having live guests on their show. The employees have basically barricaded themselves inside the building, and they're allowed to leave but nobody is allowed to come in. So thats caused some problems obviously for the broadcasters themselves.

INSKEEP: As best you could determine out there in the crowd, do the protestors know what they intend to make happen over the course of this day?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Thats a very good question. I think there is a plan. The plan is to push these protests to key areas to keep the pressure on the regime. Every day seems to bring a new development and the protestors seem to react to that development.

At the moment, they're really hoping that today will be a banner. More and more people will come out to the streets to show their disappointment with Hosni Mubarak's speech. And what they're ultimately hoping, as you know - as the rest of the world knows - is that Hosni Mubarak resigns.

INSKEEP: NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro is in Cairo. Lourdes, thanks very much as always for your coverage.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: you're welcome.

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