UPDATED: Egypt Protesters Bravely Flood Tahir Square on "Day of Departure," Situation So Far "Largely Peaceful"
Update: As of 8:30pm Cairo time (1:30pm in New York), thousands of pro-democracy protesters are still gathered in Tahir Square, having broken the government ordered curfew. Al Jazeera is reporting that there have been a few instances of violence incited by Mubarak supporters against the pro-democracy demonstrators today, but overall the day has been peaceful. Still, the protesters maintain that they will not leave the square, will not stop demonstrating, until Mubarak steps down.
Listen/watch here to a fascinating report from Democracy Now's Sharif Abdel Kouddous on how the pro-democracy protesters reclaimed the square after being attacked by Mubarak forces.
Original post: Hundreds of thousands of individuals have gathered in Cairo's Tahir Square today for the eleventh day of protests -- dubbed the "Day of Departure" -- against President Hosni Mubarak. Despite the "coordinated campaign of violence" that Mubarak's thugs have been carrying out against the pro-democracy protesters and journalists in the country over the past several days (as described by Democracy Now senior producer Sharif Abdel Kouddous), Al Jazeera has managed to continue reporting on the incredible situation. Today, thankfully, has been "largely peaceful and somewhat joyous," although hundreds of Mubarak's supporters are gathering on a nearby bridge:
As the country entered its eleventh day of unrest, mass demonstrations commenced after Friday prayers....
In Cairo, about 200 Mubarak loyalists had gathered on the 6th of October Bridge, near Tahrir Square, with another 200 below the bridge. They were chanting pro-regime slogans, and holding up posters of Mubarak. Our correspondent reported that there was a standoff between about 300 Mubarak loyalists and pro-democracy protesters in the Talaat Harb square, which is located on a street leading to the main protest centre. People were throwing rocks at one another, and the Mubarak loyalists were eventually driven from the square. Our correspondents at the scene reported that there were up to five layers of checkpoints at some entrances, with makeshift barricades being put up by pro-democracy protesters.
"The feel here is that today is the final day for Mubarak, it's time for him to go," Gigi Ibrahim, a political activist told Al Jazeera from the square. "This whole process has been about who is more determined and who is not willing to give up. And everyday [the protesters] get more and more determined," Ibrahim said.
Here in the U.S., the government reportedly has a plan in the works to get Mubarak to step down immediately and turn Egypt over to a transitional government led by Vice President Omar Suleiman -- a "former head of Egypt's spy agency and an alleged 'CIA point man' who facilitated the 'extraordinary rendition' of terrorism suspects," reports Raw Story:
As spy chief, Suleiman reportedly embraced the CIA's controversial "extraordinary rendition" program, in which terror suspects snatched by the Americans were taken to Egypt and other countries without legal proceedings and subjected to interrogations....
After taking over as spy director, Suleiman oversaw an agreement with the United States in 1995 that allowed for suspected militants to be secretly transferred to Egypt for questioning, according to the book "Ghost Plane" by journalist Stephen Grey.
As has been the case for the past eleven days, Al Jazeera is live-blogging today's events in Egypt and is providing incredible live reporting from around the country. Watch here: