Cairo Protests in Real Time

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We're covering this morning's protests at several locations in Cairo, Egypt.  Thousands of people are turning out in the streets, chanting against President Hosni Mubarak and calling for an end to poverty. The protests are turning violent, with police firing tear gas and water canons to disperse crowds.

All morning, we've been talking in real time with one of the organizers of the protest. He's the administrator of a Facebook page called "We are all Khaled Said," named after an Egyptian businessman who was beaten to death last summer.

He won't tell us his real name, but goes by "alshaheed." He also wouldn't talk to us by phone, for fear of being identified. Here are his IM chat messages from Egypt this morning with Takeaway line producer Sitara Nieves.

Sitara: I'm seeing reports that Cairo is on lockdown.

alshaheeed: Ramses Square (main square) and AlGalaa bridge are gaining pace. The police cordon has been broken down. See an image of the march on the english facebook page

Sitara: how are you hearing up-to-date information? Cell phone? email? Just curious how your'e getting up-to-date information and how people are communicating

alshaheeed: via reporters on the ground who send me details and photos via mobile phone, email and google chat

Sitara: I see your tweets saying "large crowd in front of high court now" -- how many people are they reporting are there?

alshaheeed: I would estimate it to be more than a 1 thousand at least

Sitara: what are people worried about in terms of police resopnse? has there been any police crackdown?

alshaheeed: yes there has been

Sitara: what has happened? do you think this is connected to what's happening in tunisia?

alshaheeed: people have been arrested in Tanta and in Asuit according to our reporters there

Sitara: many people?

alshaheeed: Tunisia showed us the way 6 april says 50 protesters were arrested in Assuit not sure about Tanta let me check

Sitara: would today's protest have happened without tunisia?

alshaheeed: Tunisia made those who lost hope start to have hope again. Ben Ali was the worst dictator. he used to arrest any young man who prays in the mosque or any woman who comes out of her house with a headscarf his family stole the whole country so to be thrown away in such way .. made those who think Mubarak can not go, change their mind Protesters are now gathering in Mohandesin, infront of Mustafa Mahmoud mosque March to start in 15 minutes

Sitara: is mubarak the same as ben ali

alshaheeed: Whis is worse? The devil or satan? 30 years of emergency law. economy going down for years and years. more than 15K prisoners without charge some of them have been arrested for 3 years without trial or even knowing what they are arrested for torture in Egyptian Police stations is normal standard practice I'll leave you to judge *I meant. I'll let you judge yourself

Sitara: we have the BBC's Jon Leyne on right now. can hear the crowd behind him says most egyptians not coming out to these protests why aren't more people out?

alshaheeed: it's early stage. hopefully we have more

Sitara: what's stopping people? fear?

alshaheeed: Absolutely

Sitara: are more people responding on FB/twitter than are here?

do you think twitter and Facebook are reaching enough people

in the villages... outside of the cities

Sent at 6:55 AM on Tuesday

alshaheeed: FB and Twitter is not reaching poor people thats why todays protests are focusing on poor areas especially in Cairo Cairo slums if you want to call it

Sent at 7:01 AM on Tuesday

Sitara: that seems to be a major difference with tunisia.

alshaheeed: what sorry?

Sitara: tunisia... more people have internet access... connected to FB/twitter

alshaheeed: have a look at this: I'm not sure what you want to say really... Tunisia protests started with tens of people and ended up with revolution.. we are starting our protests with thousands in many places.. is the media biased towards the dictatorship? just wondering. We understand US government prefers to keep Mubarak but I don't think US public really wants that.. US public will be happy for Egyptians when they gain freedom

Sitara: more asking what different ways of communicating people are using in egypt vs tunisia. it seems like social media may not reach enough people.

alshaheeed: true

Sitara: how do people hear about the thousands that are gathered. how do they know how to join

alshaheeed: thats why we are going to poor areas

Sitara: in cairo but outside of cairo?

alshaheeed: when they see us Cairo contains 1/4 of Egyptian population

Sitara: who do you want in power instead of mubarak

alshaheeed: there are protests everywhere but cairo is the biggest. We want freedom and democracy doesn't matter who now. I don't have a choice now. I want to have the choice first then I'll worry about choosing

Sent at 7:13 AM on Tuesday

alshaheeed: These protests could be the largest ever since the 70's

Sent at 7:23 AM on Tuesday

Sitara: are you allied with any political group? is there a political group or groups that could step up to replace mubarak -- either when he steps down or dies?

Sent at 7:35 AM on Tuesday

alshaheeed: I dont belong to any group. I belong to Egypt. We have many political groups that can together fill any vacum until an election

Sent at 7:45 AM on Tuesday

Sitara: are you available for an interview in an hour? live national morning radio across the US -- co-production of New York Times and BBC

alshaheeed: ok Can I listen to it on the internet?

Sitara: yes

alshaheeed: I need to broadcast to my followers online what's the url address to listen to it?


alshaheeed: thanks Is it in 1 hour and 10 minutes you say?

Sitara: little under an hour

alshaheeed: what time exactly please? I'll let people know

Sitara: in 50 minutes -- 8:40am EST would it be with you

alshaheeed: I'm up for it

Sitara: could we use your name? we're calling you "an organizer of Cairo protests" - is that accurate?

alshaheeed: One of the organizers the admin of the facebook page "We are all khaled Said"

Sitara: yes. ok. what

alshaheeed: You can call me Khaled (not my real name)

Sitara: what number can we call you on

alshaheeed: sorry I meant chat no phones and no face to face thats the rule..

Sitara: ok

alshaheeed: too much risk fo rme

Sitara: ok

alshaheeed: I type very quickly so it should be fine

Sitara: ok -- we'll likely have jon leyne from the BBC -- so we'll bring you in via IM as well

Sent at 7:57 AM on Tuesday

alshaheeed: ok good

Sitara: can i ask how old you are?

alshaheeed: I'm less than 30 years old

Sent at 8:01 AM on Tuesday

Sitara: how do you know the government isn't infiltrating you?

alshaheeed: infiltrating where? you mean this chat message?

Sitara: anywhere you're talking communicating with organizers, etc

alshaheeed: You will laugh but we all communicate using pay as you go sim cards we just purchased yesterday we don't know each other even in case one of us got arrested We don't even know each others first name so if one of us is arrested, he wont have to tell about the others under torture

Sent at 8:16 AM on Tuesday

Sitara: we can use some of this at 8:45 right

it's ok?

alshaheeed: Sure

Sitara: ok

alshaheeed: yes sure

Sitara: that's in cairo?

alshaheeed: yes in Cairo, Tahrir square, next to the Galaa bridge

Sent at 8:21 AM on Tuesday

Sitara: what are they chanting?

alshaheeed: Down down to Mubarak and "Batel".. Batel in Arabic means ... illegitimate (closest meaning) Bambuser and Dostor newspaper websites have been blocked in Egypt


8:49 AM

Sitara: I hear there are water cannons being fired at protesters right now in Cairo?

 alshaheeed: yeah

  some protesters climbed and broke it

8:50 AM 

I am watching protests online through someone's phone

 Sitara: Jon says: "police have moved on the demonstrators...violent confrontations here. Police have... broken up the crowd gathered outside parliament building."

8:51 AM 

alshaheeed: I am listening yes. you can ask me through the radio by the way. I can hear what John is saying.  I can answer here if you want

Sitara: let me know if you want to resopnd to anything

 alshaheeed: Tell them we will not go home until we achieve something

Sitara: what do you want to achieve

8:53 AM 

alshaheeed: Freedom, democracy. Mubarak out. Judges take over on an interim government

8:54 AM 

Sitara: won't the judges be loyal or connected to Mubarak?

alshaheeed: Many of them are good


9:11 AM 

alshaheeed: One of our reporters has been hit and is being dragged across the street by Egyptian police

9:15 AM

alshaheeed: Police in Cairo started using tear gas to disperse thousands of protesters

9:17 AM

Sitara: you back?

alshaheeed: yeah

  I can hear one of our correspondants now on the phone screeming in pain after being hit by police

9:18 AM 

I can hear a lot of crying and screaming in the background of the phone.. he is phone is droppped on the floor probably. they started using tear gas

9:34 AM 

A large police car has been destroyed by protesters in Tahrir. Matareya protesters are saying police is attacking so badly now.