- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 8, 2011

CAIRO | After more than two weeks of 24-hour-a-day demonstrations, many thought Egypt’s young protesters would be tired by now. They were wrong.

On the 15th day of a popular uprising, Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo was packed Tuesday with an estimated quarter-million people demanding the immediate removal of President Hosni Mubarak.

“All of the Egyptian people don’t want him. We want him to go away, go away, go away,” said writer Rania Abu Al-Anin, almost in tears.

Since the protests started last month, Mr. Mubarak has met many of the protesters’ demands by promising to fight corruption, investigate human rights abuses, and reform presidential term limits and laws that cripple opposition political parties.

On Tuesday, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced the formation of committees that will begin implementing reforms immediately.

MUGGED: A protester puts up a caricature of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo as thousands continue to call for his ouster. (Associated Press)
MUGGED: A protester puts up a caricature of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ... more >

“The president has expressed his welcome for this national dialogue, emphasizing that it puts our feet on the right path out of this ongoing crisis,” he said, according to the Associated Press.

But as the crowds in Tahrir chant “Get out! Get out!” day after day, it comes as no surprise that few protesters believe these promises.

“I think he is lying,” law student Mohammad Farid said of Mr. Mubarak. “He’s been lying for 30 years. Why now should I [believe] what he says?”

“He killed our children,” said Ms. Abu Al-Anin, referring to the posters of the fallen demonstrators hanging above the square.

Human Rights Watch says about 300 people have been killed in the uprising, and doctors say 3,000 people have been injured in Cairo alone. Protesters say those numbers are too small to be accurate.

Frustrated by Mr. Mubarak’s refusal to leave office, many protesters insist they will stay on the streets no matter how long it takes. Hundreds camp out nightly in Tahrir Square in tents, under tarps or on donated blankets.

But the mood on Tuesday was largely optimistic as protesters said they already have proved that no future Egyptian government can discount the people in decision-making.

At one of the entrances to Tahrir Square on Tuesday morning, activists welcomed first-time protesters with songs urging people to speak their minds. “Welcome to freedom,” they sang.

In other parts of the square, young people beat water bottles and drums, making music out of a another popular chant: “I’m not leaving. He is leaving.”

By afternoon, there was a 30-minute wait to enter the square as anti-Mubarak volunteer activists examined IDs and searched throngs of people. As protesters gear up for what they hope will be their largest demonstration ever on Friday, many say they have no choice but to keep going.

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