Egyptians brace for Friday protests


Padangekspres.net-The politically embattled nation of Egypt -- rocked and stunned by an eruption of surprisingly bold street protests this week -- is bracing for a major demonstration on Friday.

There was still a smattering of street protesters in Egypt on Thursday after massive public protests on Tuesday and Wednesday calling for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak convulsed the nation and prompted a tough security crackdown.

There's been talk of a huge outpouring after Friday prayers, and now two major symbols of opposition plan to make their presence known in the nation.

The Muslim Brotherhood has called for its followers to demonstrate after the weekly Muslim prayers -- the first time in the current round of unrest that the largest opposition bloc has told supporters to take to the streets.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the Egyptian Nobel laureate and opposition leader, is returning home from Europe on Thursday and plans to participate in the big protests.

"I am there to make sure that things will be managed in a peaceful way," ElBaradei said as he was waiting to leave Vienna, Austria.

"I have to give them as much support, political support, spiritual, moral, whatever I can do, you know," he said. "I will be with them. They are my people, and I have to be there, and I'd like to see Egypt, a new Egypt."

Cairo was quiet Thursday compared to previous days, but there appear to have been smaller skirmishes, and more are anticipated as night comes.

In Suez, the port city east of Cairo on the Gulf of Suez, people congregated to demand the release of those detained, and clashes broke out between demonstrators and security forces, a witness told CNN.

in Ismaeliya, Hani Abdel Latif, an Interior Ministry official, said 50 people demonstrated peacefully. But there were news reports of clashes there.

Egypt briefly closed its stock market Thursday after it fell sharply. It reopened about an hour later.

The protest movement in Egypt has been fueled by blogs, Twitter and Facebook, and ElBaradei, who is also the former head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency, has been posting messages of support for the demonstrators on Twitter.

In an interview Tuesday on CNN's Connect the World, ElBaradei disputed a recent comment from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the Egyptian government is stable.

"Stability is when you have a government that is elected on a free and fair basis. And we have seen, you know, how the election has been rigged in Egypt. We have seen how people have been tortured," he said.

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