Cairo, Feb 5 (IANS) Defiant protesters continued to camp in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to seek the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, a day after tens of thousands of Egyptians held a “day of departure” for their president who has ruled for the past 30 years.
Demonstrators stood their ground in Tahrir Square, the focal point of the unrest that has swept through the country. Massive protests also took place in Alexandria, Mahalla and Giza. The protests entered the 12th day Saturday.
Mubarak is under intense pressure to quit as the protests gained momentum. He said he is willing to step down at the end of his term in September, but refused to quit now. He has even warned that if he leaves now, there will be chaos in the country.
The protesters are unimpressed with Mubarak’s statement and have kept up their demand for his immediate ouster.
Al Jazeera reported Saturday that protests continued into the night as the demonstrators defied a curfew. The newly relaxed curfew now runs from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. local time.
The protesters have made it clear that they would not budge till Mubarak steps down.
“It’s either death, or freedom,” a protester said.
‘Go Mubarak!’ chanted the protesters.
Egypt’s Defence Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi was a suprise visitor to ground zero Tahrir Square Friday. He met his military commanders and a few protesters.
The square has been encircled by the army with checkpoints at a few entrances and the soldiers have been trying to keep the pro-Mubarak supporters away from the anti-president demonstrators.
The unrest had turned violent Wednesday when bloody clashes took place between the pro- and anti-government supporters, leaving 13 people dead and over 1,000 injured. It has been estimated that around 300 people have died across Egypt.
On Friday, there was a huge cheer when a rumour went around that Mubarak had stepped down. The protest leaders quickly said it was false. The protesters became even more upbeat, saying it will be true the next time around.
An Egyptian journalist died Friday of a gunshot wound suffered while covering the unrest a week ago in Cairo, the Committee to Protect Journalists said in New York.
Ahmad Mohamed Mahmoud, who was working for the newspaper al-Ta’awun, was hit by what the newspaper described as sniper fire while filming a confrontation between security forces and protesters Jan 28 near Cairo’s Tahrir Square, DPA reported.
His death Friday was the first by a journalist covering the unrest in Egypt, according to CPJ.
A number of journalists have been detained or assaulted while covering the protests in Egypt.
Hosni Mubarak said he doesn’t care what people say about him and was fed up of being president. “I don’t care what people say about me. Right now I care about my country, I care about Egypt,” said Mubarak.
Mubarak, 82, told ABC News that he was fed up of being president. He said he would like to leave now, but can’t as he fears that the country would sink into chaos, ABC News reported.