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Egypt's Protesters Plan To Move Beyond Tahrir Square


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


Just yesterday, people were wondering if Egypt's government might be able to outwait the demonstrators on the streets of Cairo. Within hours, the government got a reminder that it could be a long wait.

INSKEEP: NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro was out among the protestors in Cairo today.

LOURDES GARCIA: Sobbing, as the interviewer shows him the pictures of those that have been killed during the three-week uprising, Ghonim says...

MONTAGNE: (Through Translator) I want to tell every mother and father that lost a son, I'm sorry but it's not our fault. I swear to God, it's not our fault. It's the fault of everyone who held on to power and clung to it.

GARCIA: He was arrested at the beginning of the protests and held for 12 days. Yesterday, he appeared in the square for the first time since then, to chants and cheers.


GARCIA: Eighteen-year-old high school student Hanna Rahawi is impressed.

MONTAGNE: He made a huge difference. Everyone who was pro-Mubarak became, like, with us and they changed their minds. And he's very effective.

GARCIA: Did you feel like, you know, he could be a leader. Do you think you need one?

MONTAGNE: I think so, yeah. Now, everyone's in Tahrir and they come - everyone has, like, different ideas and they want a leader. So I think this is a very suitable (unintelligible).

GARCIA: And pro-democracy protestors have now expanded beyond Liberation Square.

INSKEEP: Closed Until Further Notice, Until The Mubarak Regime Falls. And the idea behind this, they say, is that the protestors don't want to be corralled in Tahrir; they want to push themselves out to other areas of the city to keep the pressure on the Mubarak regime.

MONTAGNE: I'm here. I'm not going to move anywhere else unless this regime, which hurt us a lot, and which caused a lot of damage, and which caused a lot of corruption - and all that you're seeing right now - if they're staying even for 40 years, I'm here the whole 40 years.

GARCIA: Twenty-eight-year-old Ahmed Rafat lost a close friend in the fighting with government forces on the 28th of January. He says Mubarak needs to be tried in court.

MONTAGNE: We need him to be judged. You know, I have a friend who was killed. This is enough for me to ask for a punishment.

GARCIA: Ahmed Rafat believes more blood will be shed. The protestors, he says, want to take their demonstration to the gates of Mubarak's Cairo palace next.

MONTAGNE: I think if we try to go there, it's going to take some blood. I don't think that this is going to be safe. But I'm going to be the first person to go there. If there is a move there, I'll be the first person to go.

GARCIA: His friend chimes in.

GARCIA: All of us.

GARCIA: They give each other a high-five...


GARCIA: Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Cairo. 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.