Abdelrahman Hassan told his 9-year-old sister not to cry when he left his home in Alexandria to join the Cairo protests entering what may be their decisive phase.
"I hugged her a lot this morning. I told her I'm going to protect our future because they stole it before and they will do it again," the 28-year-old therapist said in the capital's Tahrir Square. "People need to come to protect this revolution because the regime wants to kill the revolution."
Thousands of diehard activists, who have festooned central Cairo with banners proclaiming a democratic revolution, are bracing themselves for a battle with supporters of President Hosni Mubarak whose rule has been rocked by the protests that erupted across Egypt on Jan. 25.
Concessions offered by Mubarak in a speech earlier this week, including a promise of constitutional reforms, caused a drop in support for the demonstrators, while popular and government pressure grew on them to give up their occupation of Cairo's central urban space.
An attack on Wednesday by Mubarak supporters wielding knives and whips, some of them on camels and horses, reinvigorated the protest but raised fears of a bloody showdown at
Tahrir that could make or break their dream of a new Egypt.
Many seemed to have come to Tahrir seeking retribution for past wrongs or despair at the poverty, corruption and political repression that has afflicted Egypt for decades.