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Anti-Government Unrest in Egypt Continues as Protests Spread to Yemen

January 27, 2011 at 4:42 PM EDT
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JEFFREY BROWN: And we return to the uprisings in the Middle East.

Yemen was the latest Arab country to erupt with mass protests today. Thousands marched in the capital city of Sanaa, calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Yemen’s leader had tried to calm tensions by raising army salaries, cutting income taxes and denying that he plans to have his son succeed him.

In the meantime, as Jim and the vice president discussed, it’s day three for violent protests in Egypt.

We have this update from Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News in Cairo.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: This was Suez today, Egypt’s tinderbox, police firing tear gas towards hundreds of protesters, who filmed it all themselves and posted it on the Internet.

The government accused them of vandalism. And a police station was today set alight. Three protesters died here on Tuesday, and eyewitnesses say demonstrators have begun firing back at security forces.

Last night, they set buildings on fire, including an office belonging to President Mubarak’s party. “By hook or by crook, Mubarak must go,” they shouted, apparently desperate for change in a city short of jobs and short of food they can afford.

President Mubarak hasn’t spoken yet — the 82-year-old giving no answer to demands that he give up the presidency. But the boss’s right-hand man told the press the president was following everything, though his response to demands for change at the top seemed vague.

SAFWAT EL-SHERIF, National Democratic Party (through translator): I say yes to dialogue, yes to power-sharing and yes to the sharing and exchange of opinions but in a peaceful and legal manner.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: Egyptian security forces have given protesters a more concrete reply, with beatings and hundreds of arrests. And Cairo is bracing for more trouble tomorrow.

Protesters are back on the streets for a third day, in defiance of an official government ban. And many more thousands are expected out tomorrow, when Egyptians emerge from their mosques and their weekend begins.

The president stays silent. His most famous critic flew in from Europe, Mohamed ElBaradei, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Today, he struck a leader-like pose. But that may not impress leaderless Egyptians, who rose up on the streets without his help.

MOHAMED ELBARADEI, Nobel Peace Prize laureate: They have to understand that they have to listen to the people, listen to them quickly, take concrete action towards reform, toward a new Egypt that is democratic, that is based on social justice.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: Egypt’s banned Islamist party is also climbing aboard the protest bandwagon. The Muslim Brotherhood, demonized by Mubarak as violent extremists, is calling out its members tomorrow.

Tonight, reports came in of demonstrations in several towns and cities. In the Sinai region, a 22-year-old man was killed by security forces. Eyewitnesses said he has been shot in the head.