Opposition in Egypt Gears Up for Major Friday Protest

The Guardian: Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak, will face escalating challenges on all fronts tomorrow, with Cairo expecting the biggest day yet of street protests and Mohamed ElBaradei, one of his fiercest critics, calling explicitly for a “new regime” on his return to Cairo.

Redoubling the sense of crisis for 82-year-old Mubarak, who has ruled for the past three decades, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most potent opposition force, said it was backing the latest call for demonstrations scheduled to follow Friday prayers.

In an interview with CNN before his return, ElBaradei poured scorn on comments by the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who had described the Egyptian government as stable and “looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people”.

“I was stunned to hear secretary Clinton saying the Egyptian government is stable. And I ask myself at what price is stability? Is it on the basis of 29 years of martial law? Is it on the basis of 30 years of [an] ossified regime? Is it on the basis of rigged elections? That’s not stability, that’s living on borrowed time,” said ElBaradei.

“When you see today almost over 100,000 young people getting desperate, going to the streets, asking for their basic freedom, I expected to hear from secretary Clinton stuff like ‘democracy, human rights, basic freedom’ – all the stuff the US is standing for,” he said.

The Muslim Brotherhood is throwing its weight behind protests after four days in which six have died and almost 1,000 have been rounded up by police. Mohammed Mursi, a leader of the group, said: “We are not pushing this movement, but we are moving with it. We don’t wish to lead it but we want to be part of it.”

Organisers of tomorrow’s marches – dubbed “the Friday of anger and freedom” – are defying a government ban on protests issued on Wednesday. They have been using social media to co-ordinate, and hope to rally even more than the tens of thousands who turned out on Tuesday in the biggest protests since 1977.

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