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Egyptian Protesters Gather For 'Day Of Departure'


It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And, Lourdes, what is the scene there now? Pretty amazing, people pouring out of that square - it's so full.

LOURDES GARCIA: And to get into the square, you literally have to go through at least 10 checks. They pat you down. They check your I.D. These are the protestors themselves organizing that and they're very, very thorough. They do not want people coming into the square with any kind of weaponry. They're very serious about saying that they believe that they want their protest to be peaceful. They will only respond if attacked.

MONTAGNE: And what about the Army? What are the soldiers doing differently today?

GARCIA: You know, the army has been a wild card. The protestors here, at a certain moment, have felt that they are with them. And then they felt that they were against them. Today, it seems that they are keeping the peace, at least for now. But we have not seen any pro-Mubarak protestors coming here yet. There has not been any violence in Tahrir Square today.

MONTAGNE: And we all seem to be watching Tahrir or Liberation Square, but what's going on in the rest of the city?

GARCIA: People here legitimately are worried about what will come after Hosni Mubarak. There are fears of the Muslim Brotherhood. They feel that they might try and capitalize on this, and try and make this an Islamist regime. There also just fears of general instability, specifically among the Coptic Christians. They feel that Hosni Mubarak kept the peace and allowed them to flourish here up to a certain point, and they're worried about what will come next after he is gone.

MONTAGNE: Now, is there any sense of what is going on behind the scenes? I mean your there out on the square, but we're hearing about efforts to persuade Mubarak to give up power soon.

GARCIA: You know, the statements coming out of Europe and the United States have really hardened over the past few days, especially in light of all the attacks, seemingly orchestrated - at least in part - by the government, on the citizens of their countries.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Lourdes Garcia Navarro speaking to us from Liberation Square in Cairo, thanks very much.

GARCIA: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.
Renee Montagne, one of the best-known names in public radio, is a special correspondent and host for NPR News.