Cairo, Feb 12 (IANS) Tahrir Square, a large public square in downtown Cairo, Friday lived up to its name as Hosni Mubarak quit as president in the face of massive protests. `Tahrir’ means liberation in Arabic.
The expansive square, measuring 490,000 sq feet, turned into the epicentre of the uprising in Egypt against the 30-year rule of Mubarak, who stepped down Friday night on the 18th day of protests.
Tens of thousands of protesters congregated at the square over the 18-day period to vent their fury against a leader who ruled with an iron hand. As the protests continued, the square turned into a tent city with demonstrators staying overnight in the square that had become a symbol for their uprising.
The gathering of protesters at the capital city’s square began Jan 25 amid calls from several pro-democracy leaders to join in their demand for removal of the 82-year-old leader.
The Egyptian protest was said to have been triggered after a month-long protest in Tunisia led to the ouster of the north African country’s president Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali.
On Feb 8, thousands of democracy supporters streamed to the Tahrir Square to take part in the “March of Million” in a show of solidarity.
The protesters defied the government’s call for the end of unrest after Mubarak in his televised address Feb 1 promised to step down, but not before the end of his term in September.
Mubarak’s effort to appease the protesters by delegating some power to Vice President Omar Suleiman went in vain as demonstrators intensified their demand for his immediate removal and called for another “million march” Friday.
The protesters were initially stunned and then grew increasingly belligerent when Mubarak, in a televised address, announced Thursday night that he was not stepping down.
Nearly 300 people were killed during the 18-day protest in Cairo and other Egyptian cities.