Egypt unrest escalates; foreign journalists detained by police
Thursday, February 3, 2011; 3:28 PM
Violent protests continued for a second day in Egypt as Will Englund, Griff Witte and Debbi Wilgoren reported:
As bloody attacks on anti-government demonstrators in central Cairo continued for a second day Thursday, Egypt's new vice president appealed for patience in implementing reforms but warned against unspecified conspiracies and flatly rejected opposition demands that President Hosni Mubarak leave power immediately.
The remarks came amid a growing chorus of international condemnation as dozens of foreign journalists and human rights workers were arrested while reporting on violent clashes following attempts by Mubarak supporters to break up anti-government demonstrations.
Omar Suleiman, a former intelligence chief and Mubarak confidant who was appointed vice president last week, said in an interview on state television that Mubarak would keep his word not to run in the next presidential election, to be held no later than September. Suleiman said Mubarak's son Gamal, who had been considered his heir apparent, also would not run.
Foreign journalists were caught up in the protests, and several were detained by military police, as David Nakamura explained:
A day after journalists were beaten by pro-government supporters in Cairo, at least two dozen reporters, including two Washington Post staff members, have been detained according to multiple witnesses. Based on reports from witnesses, they were in the custody of the military police in Cairo as of 3 p.m. EET (8 a.m. EST). Early reports that they were in the custody of the Interior Ministry appear to have been incorrect.
Leila Fadel, the Post's Cairo bureau chief, Linda Davidson, a staff photographer, Sufian Taha, their translator and a longtime Washington Post employee, and Mansour el-Sayed Mohammed Abo Gouda, their Egyptian driver, were among those who have been detained, said Douglas Jehl, the Post's foreign editor. Fadel and Davidson have since been released, but Taha and Abo Gouda are believed to still be in custody.
Three Al Jazeera journalists also have been detained and another is reported missing, according to a statement from the news network. Meantime, the Associated Press reported that its correspondent saw "eight foreign journalists detained by the military near the prime minister's office, not far from Tahrir Square."
Mohamed ElBaradei has become the unlikely face of the anti-government protesters, as Colum Lynch and Janine Zacharia reported:
Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Prize-winning former United Nations bureaucrat, has emerged this week as an improbable revolutionary, clamoring for the overthrow of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak.
On Wednesday, as pro-Mubarak mobs attacked protesters in Tahrir Square, ElBaradei appealed to the Egyptian army to break with the nation's aging leader and defend the demonstrators. "This is yet another symptom, or another indication, of a criminal regime using criminal acts," ElBaradei said, according to al-Jazeera. "My fear is that it will turn into a bloodbath."
Earlier this week, he scolded the United States for refusing to withdraw its support for Mubarak.
ElBaradei's transformation from a high-profile U.N. official with a home in Vienna to a key player in Egypt's popular uprising follows a lackluster year-long campaign to enter his native country's politics, both as an advocate of democracy and as a possible presidential candidate in this year's elections.
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