The day after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak declared a curfew and proposed to appease protesters by building a new government, Al Jazeera reports that there are more people on the streets than ever before. Live pictures show protesters moving peacefully around the city, directing traffic—from civilian cars to civilian tanks—and marching en masse to strategic targets, including the state television station, government torture sites, and the ministry of the interior. Protesters are making a concerted effort to win the support of the soldiers in tanks and armored cars who are now sharing the streets with them.
There is also fighting. The police have opened fire on protesters at the ministry of the interior, and there have been reports that the army is siding with the people. I’ve seen reports of shooting around the Bank of Egypt offices, also in Cairo.
Al Jazeera asked an Egyptian correspondent how people are coordinating the continued uprising even after the government has turned off the internet and telecommunications networks. She explained that they are using longstanding, person-to-person trade union and activist networks—a reminder that this revolution didn’t just begin this week, but has been decades in the making.
Religious leaders—including Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, the sheikh of Cairo’s Al-Azhar University and the leading cleric in Sunni Islam—have spoken out in support of the uprising, and in the hope that the protests will proceed nonviolently. In an interview with the Egyptian daily Al-Shorouq, another leading sheikh, Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, said the following, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute:
Al-Qaradhawi decreed that it is forbidden to fire on demonstrators, and called on police to refuse any order to do so from their commanders: “I say to any man who claims that he is the slave of the one who gives him orders: You are the slave of Allah, and it is forbidden to kill.” Likewise, Al-Qaradhawi banned demonstrators from attacking police: “They are [part of] us, and we are [part of] them, and therefore their blood is forbidden… It may be that if they get the chance they will join the masses [of demonstrators].” He also banned damaging public and private property.
As I write, Al Jazeera is reporting that Al-Qaradhawi is also calling on protesters not to destroy state institutions.
And just in on Twitter, from Sharif Kouddous, senior producer at Democracy Now!: “People are praying in Tahrir square.”