Activists trying to oust Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak extended protests against his 30-year rule into a third day on Thursday, playing cat-and-mouse with police and making a new call for protests seeking change.
Prominent reform campaigner Mohamed ElBaradei, who lives in Vienna, was due to return to Egypt on Thursday. His arrival could drive on protesters who have no figurehead, although many activists resent his long absences over past months. At least three protesters and one policeman have died in clashes since they erupted on Tuesday. The protests, inspired by a popular revolt in Tunisia and unprecedented during Mubarak's strong-arm rule, have seen police fire rubber bullets and tear gas at demonstrators throwing rocks and petrol bombs.
Like Tunisians, Egyptians complain about surging prices, a lack of jobs and authoritarian rule that has relied on heavy-handed security to keep dissenting voices quiet.
"Egypt's Muslims and Christians will go out to fight against corruption, unemployment and oppression and absence of freedom," wrote an activist on the Facebook, which alongside sites like Twitter have been key tools to rally people onto the streets.
In central Cairo, demonstrators have burned tyres and hurled stones at police. In Suez, a city to the east, protesters to
ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, launched a campaign for change last year, raising hopes his international stature could galvanise the opposition. "I am going back to Cairo and back onto the streets, because, really, there is no choice. You go out there with this massive number of people and you hope things will not turn ugly, but so far, the regime does not seem to have gotten that message," he said in remarks on U.S. website The Daily Beast.
"If we are talking about Egypt, there is a whole rainbow variety of people who are secular, liberal, market oriented, and if you give them a chance they will organise to elect a government," said a protester. Web activists seem to have acted largely independently of more organised opposition movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, widely seen as having Egypt's biggest grassroots network with its social and charity projects.
"Participation has no religious direction, it is an Egyptian movement," wrote an activist about Friday's protest.
San Francisco: Micro-blogging site Twitter confirmed Wednesday that its service had been blocked in Egypt, indicating a probable government crackdown on technology that could disseminate information about the widening anti-government demonstrations.
"We can confirm that Twitter was blocked in Egypt around 8 a.m. (Pacific Time, 1600 GMT) today," Twitter confirmed on the @twitterglobalpr feed. "It's impacting both Twitter.com & applications. We believe that the open exchange of info & views benefits societies and helps govts better connect w/ their people."