Youth Leaders May Keep Egyptian Protests Going
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Some of Egypt's opposition groups are now talking with the government. Others still insist on doing their talking in the streets.
MONTAGNE: Egypt's new vice president, Omar Suleiman held a meeting over the weekend. He welcomed his opponents to talk about what happens next in their country.
INSKEEP: NPR's Eric Westervelt has the latest from Cairo.
ERIC WESTERVELT: Youth leader Ahmed Maher...
AHMED MAHER: (Foreign language spoken)
WESTERVELT: The youth movement leadership Sunday said they were joining forces to try to present a united front. Thirty-year-old lawyer Ziad Al Alamy said protests will continue and organizers may try to expand and change strategy.
ZIAD A: We'll change the tactics. We'll change the places that we'll demonstrate on. We will change our movement. We'll change all of these things.
WESTERVELT: So you're ready to do more than just hold a sit-in in Tahrir square?
AL ALAMY: We are thinking about it now.
WESTERVELT: Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Right Watch, says several of his colleagues were recently detained and interrogated at an unknown military intelligence camp on the outskirts of Cairo.
PETER BOUCKAERT: They could hear the screams of other people who were being beaten and tortured at the center. That's the way the Egyptian security services operates, and it's very brutal
WESTERVELT: Bouckaert points out that protesters deeply distrust Suleiman, the man the West appears to be backing as a transitional figure. They see the long- time intelligence chief as a key player in Mubarak's authoritarian system.
BOUCKAERT: He's a person who has a long history of involvement in repression and human rights abuses, including torture. He was the point person for the rendition program during Bush administration, where people were handed over to the CIA. He is not the kind a person that the people out in the street today want to see in power.
WESTERVELT: Egyptian analyst Hisham Kassem is skeptical that Suleiman-led talks with some of the opposition will lead anywhere, until Mubarak steps down. Kassem sees a protracted stalemate ahead as the regime digs in.
HISHAM KASSEM: I think Mubarak is in denial. Mubarak is too old to learn anything new. He doesn't realize that it's over for him. The only way he can restore power is a brutal crackdown, and I don't think even the military will do that. So it's a dead end: He steps down or he disperses this crowd.
(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD)
WESTERVELT: Eric Westervelt, NPR News, Cairo.
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