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Egypt uprising – key phases, a compilation

Dr John Postill
Open University of Catalonia
Sheffield Hallam University

Weds, 9 February 2011


14 Jan. Tunisian government ousted, ‘virtually unprecedented in modern Arab history´1.

Week 1. Violence erupted during the first seven days of anti-government

demonstrations in Egypt2

25 Jan Day of Anger. Largest demo in years against Mubarak, across Egypt, inspired
by Tunisian events. Set on this day to coincide with National Police Day. Coordinated
via Facebook page. Orgs ‘taking a stand against torture, poverty, corruption and
unemployment’3. Twitter played ‘a key part’, supporters in Egypt and abroad used
hashtag #jan25 ‘to post news of the day’4. Anonymous leaflets provide advice on how to
organise mass demos, confront riot police, take control of gov offices. Leaflet asks
people to email and photocopy it but not use social media which being monitored5. Also
ham radio used to organise and coordinate the ‘extremely well organised’ revolt6. Al
Jazeera TV coverage widely watched in Egypt and abroad.

26 Jan One protester and police officer killed. More violence used by both police and

27 Jan. Nobel laureate ElBaradei returns to Egypt to take up leadership of opposition to

Mubarak. Speaks to thousands of protesters defying curfew for third consecutive night.
But protests smaller as people planning for mass demo the following day8. Police return
to streets, fighter jets fly low overhead. User named eacusa tweeted: “#Jan25 #Egypt
Good news, morale in Cairo still high, veteran activists from 60s & 70s r spreading
knowledge of predigital ways 2 coordinate.”9. Government disrupts internet and
mobile/blackberry services simply by making a few phone calls.

28 Jan Friday of Anger. Although Egyptian gov cut off internet and mobile phone
services, this however didn’t dissuade protesters. One commentator said ‘demonstrators
have an offline networking tool: the mosques’, but doubts about ability to sustain
momentum ‘analogically’10. Violent clashes protesters and authorities11. ElBaradei
placed under house arrest, US says will review $1.5 billion aid package, later released.
‘Plethora of Tunisian national flags and anti-Mubarak grafitti’ (overlooked media??)12.

29 Jan Soldiers protect Egyptian Museum. Thousands of protestors stand their ground in
Tahrir Square despite troops firing into the air13. Protestors more confident, even
‘celebratory’ about prospects that Mubarak would leave, though no evidence14.

30 Jan. Thousands of protesters still defied curfew; army deployed across Cairo to
protect key places; vigilante groups set in neighbourhoods to fight off looters. Muslim
Brotherhood official support for ElBaradei to form national unity government15.

31 Jan Al Jazeera facing interference to broadcast signal across Arab region, worse than
ever16. For first time pro-Mubarak protests, at least 1,000 people, drawn mostly from
neighbourhood watch groups. Industrial strikes called in Cairo and many other cities17.

Week 2. Anti-government protests continued into a second week, with running

battles between rival demonstrators18

1 Feb. March of the Millions. Mubarak’s speech. Won’t step down yet and will “die
on Egyptian soil”. More clashes between anti- and pro-Mubarak on streets. Leader of
Kifaya (Enough) movement says Mubarak’s offer to serve another term not enough.
New national coalition for change formed19.

2 Feb. State-sponsored thugs and police attacked the protesters in Tahrir Square, as the
army looked on. “Provocateurs came riding on horses and camels armed with swords,
whips, clubs, stones, rocks, and pocket knives, attacked anti-government protesters in
central Cairo, including Tahrir Square”. Journalists also attacked20. Google and Twitter
launch speak-to-tweet system whereby messages can be sent without having an internet
connection, through a voicemail message21. In morning internet access partially
restored; night-time curfew eased22. Why internet back on? Reporters Without Borders
says: a) Egypt couldn’t ignore US pressure, b) dire economic consequences, c) too late
to be effective, internet already effectively used as mobilisation tool23. Mubarak doesn’t
heed international calls to resign. ElBaradei calls on army to step in and says Mubarak
should be granted “safe exit” for Friday’s Departure Day24.

3 Feb Situation has deteriorated rapidly25. New vicepresident blames foreign media.
Mubarak tells ABC he’s tired and wants to resign but fears chaos. Mubarak supporters
shoot and kill at least five in Tahrir Square. Thousands barricaded in the square, will
stay until Mubarak resigns. Muslim Brotherhood, until now on the sidelines, issues
statement calling for national unity gov to replace Mubarak26. “Vodafone … forced by
the Egyptian government to send SMS text messages to its customers. The pro-Mubarak
messages characterized protesters as un-loyal to the state and had called upon recipients
to "confront" them. Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao reported that the general public is
still being blocked from sending SMS text messages”27.

4 Feb Friday of Departure. Same organisers of Day of Anger and Friday of Anger
[seriality]. Obama urges Mubarak to resign, though not calling for immediate
resignation. Hundreds of thousands demonstrate in Tahrir Square. Chants calling for
Mubarak’s resignation ‘reverberate across the square’28

5 Feb Thousands stay in square, fearing that army will try to evacuate them. Head of
army asks protesters to go home29. Leadership of ruling National Democratic Party (sic)
resigns, including son of Mubarak, Gamal30.

6 Feb Sunday of Martyrs Same organisers again. Muslim Brotherhood announce

they’ll take part in a dialogue about the transition31. Banks reopened. People rushing to
buy US dollars32.

7 Feb Concessions to civil servants by new Cabinet: 15% rise in salaries and pensions.
Admin of Facebook page that ignited protests, Wael Ghonim, released – had been
arrested 25 Jan.

Week 3.

8 Feb “3:35am Since Wael Ghonim's release from Egyptian custody and emotional TV
interview on DreamTV, thousands of supporters have joined a new Facebook page
created in his honour. Its called: We authorise Wael Ghoneim to speak on behalf of the
Egyptian revolution.”. 04:00am Making the rounds on Facebook and Twitter is this
Egypt tribute music video by Amir Sulaiman, Omar Offendum,The Narcicyst, Ayah,
and Freeway, with lyrics like: "I heard them say the revolution won't be televised. Al
Jazeera proved them wrong, Twitter has them paralysed.". 6:31am Hamas eyes
Brotherhood rise - Change in regime in neighbouring Egypt could be a major boost for
the Hamas movement which has been ruling Gaza for the past four years. Hamas' early
origins lie in the Muslim Brotherhood, and the two groups still have very close links.
9:08am PJ Crowley, US assistant secretary of state, joins the thousands on Twitter that
are talking about the release of Wael Ghonim. Having been released in #Egypt earlier
today, it is good to see @Ghonim back on line. 2:52pm Al Jazeera showing live video
from Egypt's Tahrir Square - hundreds of thousands already there protesting, and many
more expected. 5:07pm Al Jazeera's correspondents in Cairo said that there are a lot of
Egyptians visiting the square for the first time today. Well dressed upper class people.
The mood is euphoric, they are celebrating the sense of freedom. People chant freedom,
we want freedom. They are euphoric about their ability to express themselves, this is
something they have not been able to do in the past. we have noticed in the Square that
there is a recognition by people that this will not happen over night in order to achieve
their aim. 5:40pm Al Jazeera correspondent in Cairo said the vice president came out
about 10:30 this morning and said the president had signed a decree allowing for
constitutional amendments and was probably intended as a move against the million
man march in Tahrir Square today. "But I don’t think it worked well, I don’t think
anyone here has bothered listening to that yet, the call here is for an end to the regime of
the past 30 years, and to make sure they will not return once it’s over," our
correspondent said.

9 Feb. 1:30am Egypt’s Ambassador to the UN, Maged Abdelaziz, has spoken at the UN
Security Council and had this to say about Al Jazeera: "Even though when we had some
disputes with Al Jazeera, and then they were able to broadcast, they managed to
maneuver us and go to get from some other sources, so the world is a small village and
everybody knows what is happening all over the place.". 10:07am Egypt protests remain
strong - demonstrations enter sixteenth day, following the largest gathering so far in
Cairo's Tahrir Square. Crowds also out in huge numbers in Alexandria, Egypt's second
largest city.