Protesters Gather For Mubarak Speech Protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square gathered Thursday for a speech from President Hosni Mubarak, in which he had been expected to step down. Host Melissa Block speaks to NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro for the latest.
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Protesters Gather For Mubarak Speech

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Protesters Gather For Mubarak Speech

Protesters Gather For Mubarak Speech

Protesters Gather For Mubarak Speech

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Protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square gathered Thursday for a speech from President Hosni Mubarak, in which he had been expected to step down. Host Melissa Block speaks to NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro for the latest.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

Tonight in Egypt: Shock and outrage after a day of mass celebration anticipating the end of the Mubarak regime.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHATTER)

SIEGEL: In Cairo's Tahrir Square, protesters reacted to the speech by President Hosni Mubarak. All day he had been expected to step down, but instead he declared his intention to continue to shoulder what he called his responsibility. At the same time, he suggested some powers would be transferred to his vice president, Omar Suleiman. He said also that Egypt's emergency law would only be lifted once there is stability and security. And he sent a defiant message to the world.

HOSNI MUBARAK: (Through Translator) And I cannot and will not accept to be dictated orders from outside, no matter what the source is and no matter what the excuses or justifications are.

BLOCK: NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro joins us now from Tahrir Square. Lourdes, describe the atmosphere there now after this defiant message tonight from President Mubarak.

LOURDES GARCIA: Melissa, I'm here with a protester. His name is Karim Kandil(ph). He came from Alexandria today. He's 22 years old and an engineer. And here he is.

BLOCK: Mr. Kandil, welcome to the program. You were expecting to hear President Mubarak step down tonight, announce his resignation?

KARIM KANDIL: But he will provide him some of his authorities that are not acceptable completely to the people's demands. The people demand for Mubarak to stand down, and now they demand his trial for the crimes he committed against the 300 martyrs that have died throughout the last two weeks here in Egypt.

BLOCK: What happens, do you think, Mr. Kandil, to that anger that you're expressing right now toward President Mubarak?

KANDIL: Well, there have been some calls to head out to the presidential palace. However, there have been other calls to calm people down and have them stand their ground here at Tahrir Square. This is our ground and we're going to stand it. We're not going to leave. Tomorrow, more protesters are probably going to join in, in different squares in Cairo and all over the country, to demand that Mubarak should step down once and for all, and have him tried for the crimes he has committed.

BLOCK: Karim Kandil, one of the protesters there in Cairo's Tahrir Square, thank you very much for talking us.

KANDIL: Yeah, thank you. Thank you very much.

BLOCK: And Lourdes, just one last question. We just heard, you know, expressions of the anger and extreme disappointment among the protesters. You've been covering this now for a couple of weeks for us. Where do you see this headed after this buildup of anticipation and then this letdown tonight?

GARCIA: You know, he tried to concede a few things, but people here are not satisfied. There was a roar of fury from the crowd, and everyone that I've spoken to here says tomorrow's protests will be bigger and possibly even they will go to the presidential palace. And they're warning that if they try and do that, it may indeed be a bloodbath.

BLOCK: You're hearing fears that there would be a military crackdown on the protests.

GARCIA: And you have the military here on the streets who wants to maintain - and you have the military here that wants to maintain some kind of control. If they try to march on the presidential palace, where we believe Hosni Mubarak is holed up, who knows what the result will be. At least, that's the fear of the protesters.

BLOCK: OK. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in Tahrir Square in Cairo. Thanks so much.

GARCIA: You're welcome.

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