Update on the Egyptian Revolution - 009

Today, the "March of a Million" is ongoing in Egypt, to end the 30 year dictatorial rule of president Hosny Mubarak.

AlJazeera is estimating that the number of people in Tahrir Square in Cairo and areas around it exceed a million. Some sources estimated the crowds nationwide to be 6 million, others at 8 million.

In Alexandria, another large million march has happened as well. People filled the streets from Sidi Gaber in the east, to the train station.

In Damanhour, Mansoura, Tanta, Mahalla, Suez, Aswan and countless other cities all have large rallies.

The rallies today are peaceful, unlike 25 to 28 January, when the riot police clashed with protesters, and was crushed. There is no torching of anything. People are out with their kids. Young people, old people, educated, not-educated, rich, wealthy, Muslim, Christian, ...etc. Even toddlers in strollers. They have their food and water with them, determined to stay.

This is all organized by various grassroots movement, mainly youth. Some examples Kefaya, April 6th Youth Movement, We are all Khaled Saeed, and its Facebook group. Joining them are the other political parties and various groups. There are no sectarian, factional, or political banner. The Egyptian flag is the one that is being flown everywhere.

The protesters are united, and they demand one thing: Mubarak to step down. They made it clear that they will not negotiate until that demand is met.

The main chant is still الشعب يريد اسقاط النظام "The people .. Want .. to topple the regime", or the variant "the president" instead of "the regime". The national anthem is being sung too! It was moving to hear it live on AlJazeera English.

AlJazeera English is broadcasting some live footage again, after not doing so yesterday, after the its shutdown yesterday, briefly arresting 6 reporters, and confiscating their equipment. Right now (11:28 am Eastern time) they are broadcasting live night time footage from both Cairo's Tahrir Square and Alexandria.

Calling mobile phones to Alexandria has failed twice for me. My wife's sister said mobile is working fine. Calling land lines worked after a few tries.

Egyptian State TV has been airing the same staged pro-Mubarak rallies, dubbed wisely as "rent-a-crowd". They also pretend that there is no Tahrir Square nor any anti-Mubarak protests. As well, the call in talk shows on state TV have had various famous figures, such as actors, artists, preachers, ...etc. asking people not to participate in the protests, and voice support for Mubarak. These include Elham Shaheen, Khaled El Gendi, Hassan Youssef, Athar El Hakim, Adel Imam, and perhaps Nour El Sherif.

Other more just figures have supported the revolution and Khaled Abou El Naga, Omar Sharif (of Dr. Zhivago fame), and Ammar El Shereea.

Mubarak's fall is inevitable. It is only a matter of when and how.

Highlights of the day:

One protester carrying a sign on a pole, saying ارحل بقى - ايدي وجعتني "Leave already! My hand is hurting".

Another slogan: "Dying for something is better than living for nothing" written on the Egyptian flag.

The new minister of interior has change the slogan of police from الشرطة و الشعب في خدمة الوطن "The police and the people in the service of the nation" to the old pre-1990s slogan of الشرطة في خدمة الشعب "The police is in the service of the people". The people will make sure that this will be put into action.

The almost ex-president Mubarak is set to appear late to announce something. The USA has pressured him again and perhaps made him commit to not running again in October 2011. However, that is not enough for the protesters. He has to leave.

Extremely funny mock Facebook exchanges between Mubarak, his ministers, the business elite Gaddafi, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and Ben Ali have gone viral on email.

Protesters in Tahrir Square staged a comic trial and execution by hanging on effigies representing Mubarak.

Many jokes have been invented and passed on in the demonstrations. Joking is an innate trait among Egyptians, and was a coping strategy in hard times. Now instead of the self-loathing in the past, it is making fun of the dictator and his brutal police.

I heard this revolution being called The Lotus Revolution, the lotus being a symbol of Egypt from many thousands of years ago.