Reformer Supports Protests Egypt's Nobel Laureate Urges Mubarak to Resign

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 31, 2011 | Go to article overview
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Reformer Supports Protests Egypt's Nobel Laureate Urges Mubarak to Resign


Byline: Hamza Hendawi and Maggie Michael Associated Press

CAIRO Egypt's most prominent democracy advocate took up a bullhorn Sunday and called for President Hosni Mubarak to resign, speaking to thousands of protesters who defied a curfew for a third night. Fighter jets streaked low overhead and police returned to the capital's streets

high-profile displays of authority over a situation spiraling out of control.

Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei's appearance in Tahrir, or Liberation, Square underscored the jockeying for leadership of the mass protest movement that erupted seemingly out of nowhere in the past week to shake the Arab world's most populous nation.

Now in their sixth day, the protests have come to be centered in the square, where demonstrators have camped since Friday. Up to 10,000 protesters gathered there Sunday, and even after the 4 p.m. curfew, they numbered in the thousands, including families with young children, addressing Mubarak with their chants of "Leave, leave, leave."

"You are the owners of this revolution. You are the future," ElBaradei told the crowd after nightfall. "Our essential demand is the departure of the regime and the beginning of a new Egypt in which every Egyptian lives in virtue, freedom and dignity."

In a further sign of Mubarak's teetering position after three decades in power, his top ally the United States called for an "orderly transition to democracy."

Asked if Washington supports Mubarak as Egypt's leader, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton avoided a direct answer, telling Fox News: "We have been very clear that we want to see a transition to democracy, and

we want to see the kind of steps taken that will bring that about."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged the Egyptian government to implement democratic reforms and stop violence against protesters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet he was "anxiously following" the crisis, saying Israel's three-decade-old peace agreement with Egypt must be preserved.

Protesters have shrugged off Mubarak's gestures of reform, including the sacking of his Cabinet and the appointment of a vice president and a new prime minister both seen as figures from the heart of his regime.

ElBaradei, the former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, has gained a following among young secular democracy activists with his grass-roots organizing. But some demonstrators dismiss him as an expatriate long removed from Egypt's problems.

"Many people feel he loves prizes and traveling abroad," said Muhammad Munir, 27. "He's not really one of the people."

The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, which wants to establish an Islamist state in Egypt, has made some statements that it was willing to let ElBaradei act as point man for the movement.

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