Live-Blog: Tuesday's Historic Day In Egypt
This post has as-they-happen updates on the news from Egypt, where Tahrir Square is filling with what protesters hope will be a million people demanding that President Hosni Mubarak step down. Check back with us throughout the day, and be sure to hit your "refresh" button so that you'll see our latest updates:
Update at 10:50 a.m. ET: Journalist Sarah El Sirgany tweets from the scene that:
"A stage, sound system and projector is being set up in #Tahrir Square in anticipation someone to address protesters"
And she says many in the crowd think that Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, who called for Mubarak to step down by Friday, may address the demonstrators.
Update at 10 a.m. ET. As we said earlier, it's often hard to estimate a crowd's size. The latest Associated Press story on the demonstrations begins this way: "More than a quarter-million people flooded Cairo's main square Tuesday in a stunning and jubilant array of young and old, urban poor and middle class professionals, mounting by far the largest protest yet in a week of unrelenting demands for President Hosni Mubarak to leave after nearly 30 years in power."
Al Jazeera has been saying there might be 2 million people in and around the square.
Update at 9:45 a.m. ET: On Morning Edition, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) was asked whether he's worried that if Mubarak is toppled someone worse might replace him. "I think the vast majority of Egyptians are moderate and want to move in a different direction," he said. But, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee added, the U.S. can't "preach democracy and talk about people's rights to make their choices and then stand in the way of it."
Here's part of his conversation with host Steve Inskeep:
Update at 9:10 a.m. ET. The Associated Press just moved this "alert":
"State Department orders evacuation of all non-emergency US government personnel from Egypt."
Update at 8:45 a.m. ET. Two Million?
Crowd sizes are difficult to gauge, especially when people are spread out.
Al Jazeera is now reporting that one of its correspondents in Tahrir Square "says that up to 2 million people are now protesting in Tahrir Square and surrounding areas — including roads and bridges nearby, which are crammed."
The news network adds that "[the] Army is arresting armed men believed to be ex-security personnel trying to penetrate the protesters. A car full of weapons and guns has been stopped and its occupants arrested."
Update at 8:25 a.m. ET. VIDEO — Earlier this morning, NBC News' Richard Engel filed this report from Tahrir Square for The Today Show:
Update at 8:10 a.m. ET: There are now "at least 1 million" people in and around Tahrir Square, Al Jazeera estimates.
Update at 7:55 a.m. ET: In related news, Jordan's King Abdullah just named a new prime minister. His country has also seen protests in recent weeks, over rising prices and unemployment.
Update at 7:40 a.m. ET. Here is the audio we promised earlier, of NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro speaking with Morning Edition's Renee Montagne:
Update at 7:30 a.m. ET. "A Brand New Moment For Egyptians":
On the BBC a moment ago, correspondent John Simpson said from Tahrir Square that the demonstration is "greater than anything in modern Egyptian history" and that because "people are able to say anything ... this is a brand new moment for Egyptians. ... Everybody here is savoring the moment."
Update at 7:15 a.m. ET: There's another way to hear the voices of those in Tahrir Square and elsewhere in Egypt. Go to "Speak to Tweet" and click on the links. The idea is that people in Egypt can call +16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855 to leave a short message — and the rest of us can hear the recordings at that link.
Update at 7:10 a.m. ET. Reminder: Among the ways to follow what's happening are the Twitter lists being curated by NPR's Andy Carvin and by StoryfulPro. And others who are live-blogging include Al Jazerra and the BBC.
Update at 6:40 a.m. ET: From Tahrir Square, NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro just told Morning Edition host Renee Montagne that "it feels like a party here. ... People coming from all over, banging drums, carrying placards."
Lourdes put a young woman, who has been at the protests over the past week, on the phone. "This is a dream," she said.
We'll add the audio from that conversation as soon as possible.
Update at 6:15 a.m. ET. Like Woodstock?
From Tahrir Square, Al Jazeera's Dan Nolan tweets that:
"Protestor handing biscuits out to all in the heart of the square. It feels kinda like an Egyptian version of Woodstock at the mo!"
— 5:25 a.m. ET: It's midday in Cairo and the BBC writes that correspondent "Lyse Doucet in Tahrir Square says the crowds there are already much bigger than on previous days."
According to Al Jazeera, more than 100,000 demonstrators are already there. it also reports that the Army continues to provide security, without taking any actions to hinder the protests. Al Jazeera is again streaming its coverage online.
NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, who is in the square, says some of the demonstrators may march to the Presidential Palace later. Al Jazeera, though, is reporting that the march to the palace may be delayed until Friday.
Meanwhile, "the mood is extremely ebullient this morning," Lourdes reports, in part because last night the nation's new vice president — Omar Suleiman, who — said he has been instructed by Mubarak to to negotiate with all political parties on Constitutional and legislative reform. Protesters, Lourdes says, think that's a sign that Mubarak's days in power are numbered. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.