More scenes from today in Tahrir Square posted by Al Jazeera English
So I got to Tahrir Square at about 11 and the density of the crowd was about 2 people per square meter, probably 100,000. Two hours later the crowd had gone to shoving room only, there was nowhere you could move without being up against someone else. At the high point, at 4 or 5, I think 1.5-2 million people. An impromptu p.a. was set up for speeches. People had organized camp spaces, prayer spaces, so there’s order that’s coming to the entire square.
Q. The chants? The demands?
Again what’s been really remarkable about all this is that very little has changed in terms of the chants. The chants we heard on Tuesday, horiya, horiya, freedom. [Other Arabic.] All chants go directly to the heart of the matter, that Mubarak himself needs to go… Really the same chants we’re hearing day in and day out repeatedly.
Q. We’ve heard that the opposition has issued a joint set of demands, Mubarak out, new constitution, new elections. What you’ve heard about that, knowledge of that?
People have discussed it. They mention those demands, mostly just around Mubarak. The understanding is that when Mubarak goes, everything else goes. That means the emergency laws, elections, the end of the dictatorship. Mubarak as a figure is the focus. The Mubarak regime is on people’s minds more generally. They mean Suleiman, the secret police, everything affiliated with 30 years of rule.
Q. What about the march to the presidential palace? Still a plan?
Well one of the issues– I’m trying to help you visualize. This is a massive public space, and the avenues leading off this public space are also massive, just not large enough to accommodate a lot of people. The logistics of trying to communicate to everyone in the square that 1, we’re going to move in one direction and 2, we’re going to do it in an orderly way, while the army which creates a perimeter, which exists at every point around the squre, the army is in the way– that seems like an incredible thing to do and you’ll get a lot of disruptions..Another point is I think people are reluctant to leave Tahrir Square. This was a hard fought battle Friday night for the public space. Symbolically I think it means a lot for people to have control of it and I don’t think people are willing to let it go.
Q. We heard Mohamed ElBaradei is not there, and they were critical on Al Jazeera, talked about him in his garden while people protesting. Any of that feeling?
I think probably the most truthful thing I can say about Mohamed ElBaradei is that no body is really conscious of his being one place way or another. This is the first time I have heard his name. Nobody seems to think about him very much. To the extent that he’s willing to step in and exercise some control especially now that he has the backing of the Muslim Brotherhood, I think people would say, Ok, fine, but he’s not the primary focus right now. People are talking about elections. They’re not talking about Mohamed ElBaradei. When I talked to someone about who he wanted to see run for office… he talked about public intellectuals, university professors in the diaspora.
Q. What’s next?
There comes a point where you think there’s got to be a breaking event. I don’t know what it is– what event or series of events are going to force Mubarak to reconsider to think of just leaving the country. I don’t know. What is very clear is that people here are determined, they’ve reached the point of no return. Everybody who has participated in these demonstrations has something real and tangible to lose if things return to what they were just a week ago, last Monday. I spoke to one man who is a public sector employee, who hasn’t been going to work since Friday, who’s thrown his entire weight behind these demonstrations, since Friday. That’s the kind of person who’s on the street today and that’s the kind of person who has a real stake in seeing that the status quo has been upset, and is upset.