Egypt crisis: Obama downplays fears of Muslim Brotherhood
On Sunday, an anti-Mubarak protester sleeps in a burnt out van that makes up part of the barricade that protects Tahrir Square.
February 6th, 2011
01:05 PM ET

Egypt crisis: Obama downplays fears of Muslim Brotherhood

Read full coverage and examine a timeline of the unrest in Egypt updated continually by CNN reporters worldwide. Send your photos and video to iReport and see CNN in Arabic here. See also this strong roundup of timely, insightful views on the wave of upheaval in the Arab world.

[Update 1:48 a.m. Cairo, 6:48 p.m. ET] U.S. President Barack Obama downplays  the prospect of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has voiced opposition to the United States, ascending to power in Egypt once its president, Hosni Mubarak, leaves office.  "They don't have majority support in Egypt, but they are well-organized," Obama tells Fox News' Bill O'Reilly on Sunday.

[Update 1:25 a.m. Cairo, 6:25 p.m. ET] Former ABC News journalist Sam Donaldson on Sunday stood by recent compliments he gave to Al-Jazeera regarding its coverage of the Egypt protests, telling CNN's Howard Kurtz that the network did "a service in fanning the flames in Egypt."

[Update 12:37 a.m. Cairo, 5:35 p.m. ET] The U.S. State Department  issues an updated travel warning for Egypt, continuing to recommend U.S. citizens make every effort to leave the North African country. It also adds the U.S. government is not planning additional charter trips. Read the full advisory here.

[Update 12:20 a.m. Cairo, 5:20 p.m. ET] A U.S. State Department release on Sunday says U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke Saturday night with Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq. During that meeting, Clinton stressed that a "broad cross-section of political actors and civil society" should be part of the government's transformation process.

[Update 12:14 a.m. Cairo, 5:14 p.m. ET] State-run Nile TV reports that Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq called the network to announce that Google executive Wael Ghonim, missing for more than a week, will be released Monday.

[Update 8 p.m. Cairo, 1 p.m. ET] Multiple bursts of automatic gunfire - apparently warning shots - could be heard in Tahrir Square near the Egyptian Museum. The incident marked an escalation of tempers between the military and protesters. After the army fired the warning shots, hundreds of protesters surrounded the military positions in the square, CNN's Ivan Watson reported.

[Update 6:58 p.m. Cairo, 11:58 a.m. ET] Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq said authorities have been told "not to bother" human rights activists and journalists working at anti-government protests. If there have been such problems, they are "not intended," Shafiq told CNN's Candy Crowley Sunday. Arrests of journalists and human rights activists "are not allowed at all," he said.

[Update 5:40 p.m. Cairo, 10:37 a.m. ET] Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the United States cannot "micromanage the process" in Egypt, but that the Obama administration needs to make its goals clear. "Arriving at a Democratic solution is important, which is in fact inclusive, Democratic, peaceful and rapid," Albright said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

[Update 5:10 p.m. Cairo, 10:07 a.m. ET] Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said that the situation in Egypt remains in a standoff as long as President Hosni Mubarak refuses to leave. "I hope somebody will send a message, I don't know in which way, to President Mubarak that for the sake of the country, for his own dignity, to defuse this crisis, he better step down," ElBaradei told CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS." Watch Zakaria's take on whether Egypt is a revolution or a revolt.

"Everybody is ready to give him the dignified out he is entitled to as a former president of Egypt," ElBaradei told Zakaria.

- During his CNN interview Sunday, ElBaradei also said he would refuse to meet with the Egyptan government unless Mubarak steps down. Other oppositions groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, have meet with the government. ElBaradei said the Egyptian people are getting confusing messages about whether Mubarak should leave office, referring to a U.S. envoy's comments that Mubarak must stay in place during a transition of power and the Obama administration saying he should leave soon.

[Update 3:09 p.m. Cairo, 8:09 a.m. ET] Some banks in Egypt have opened and it's now the start of the work week in Egypt. Banks had been closed for days during protests. Meanwhile, the mood in Tahrir Square, the site of pro-Hosni Mubarak and anti-Hosni Mubarak clashes last week, was festive and peaceful as Christians and Muslims held hands and sang. The gathering appears to be strong as people continue to push for Mubarak to leave office.

[Update 11:46 a.m. Cairo, 4:46 a.m. ET]It is a "huge mistake" for Egypt to shut down the internet or use violence against protesters, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Sunday.

Some banks in Egypt were open Sunday, according to the country's minister of finance. Some banks opened as early as 8:30 a.m. local time.  Banks have been closed in recent days amid anti-government protests.

[Update 10:00 a.m. in Cairo, 3:00 a.m. ET] Egyptian Coptic Christians are expected to gather at Tahrir square to pray for those who have lost their lives since the protests started. Muslim protesters said they will form a ring around the Christians to protect them during the service.

The Muslim Brotherhood said it will meet with the country's vice president, days after the group said it would not negotiate until President Hosni Mubarak leaves office.

Opposition activists formed a human chain outside one of the entrances to Cairo's Tahrir Square on Saturday to prevent two Egyptian military tanks from crossing through barricades into what has effectively become an anti-Mubarak enclave.

The death toll from the violent clashes in Cairo's Tahrir Square has reached 11, Egypt's Health Ministry has said. Nearly 1,000 people have been injured in clashes in Tahrir Square.

The U.S. Embassy in Egypt issued a statement indicating that several embassy vehicles were stolen in Cairo on January 28. The statement was in response to an online video that showed a white diplomatic van running into anti-government protesters near Tahrir Square.

Members of the general secretariat of Egypt's National Democratic Party submitted their resignations, Egyptian state television reported.

Among those submitting their resignations from leadership positions in Egypt's National Democratic Party were Gamal Mubarak, Mubarak's son, state television reported.

The head of the Egyptian stock market told the nation's official news agency that it has canceled a decision to reopen the stock market on Monday. The markets remain closed for now.

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Filed under: Egypt • Protest
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. abdullah

    To the people of Egypt, represented by the protestors in Liberation Square, never capitulate, never give up, never back down. Stand firm on your number one demand that Hosni Mubarak step down and leave the country. Mubarak hands drip with the blood of Egyptians, whom he has tortured, imprisoned, and killed.

    Mubarak is an evil military dictator who has used his abusive power to deprive Egyptians of their freedom. Mubarak hs stolen billions of dollars that belongs to the people of Egypt. The 70 billion dollars, which Mubarak and his family members have stolen from the people of Egypt, could have lifted millions of Egyptians out of their poverty and misery.

    Now is not the time for the resistance movement, the people in Tahrir Square, to negotiate. No negotiation should take place until Mubarak leaves office and leaves Egypt. Muslim Brotherhood should not agree to accept the crumbs tha Mubarak and his number 2 man Suleiman are offering. The Muslim Brotherhood did not start the uprising in Tahrir Square. They, can not negotiate on behalf of the anti-Mubarak protest in Tahrir Square, without the authorization of the people in Tahrir Square.

    Mubarak deserve no dignified exit from Egypt. Did he allow the people whom he tortured and killed over the last 30 years to have dignity? Did the young martyrs who have lost their lives in Tahrir Square worry about their dignity?

    Tahrir Square has become Martyr Square, forever enshrined in the blood of martyrs who died there for freedom and democracy.for Egyptian people. Do not make their ultimate sacrifice in vain.

    February 6, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. NuckinFuts

    From what I understand the Muslim Brotherhood only comprises 20% of Egyptian government. It would be wise to keep an eye on it, but I'm really not worried about it. Maybe Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity should worry about the abuse of children within their own religions instead of asking Muslims to keep their herd in check. Wouldn't it be nice if every race or religion held the same standard for themselves as they do for others?

    February 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Aditya kapoor

    Lot of stuff is going on, especially through media that amidst the chaos, Islamists (MB) will hijack the process. But, one important thing which is to be considered is that political Islam is mainly a western construct. Things keeps on shifting and the agendas of Islamists are no exception to it. Furthermore, even Muslim Brotherhood is not a unified voice, it too has a diverse opinion. One must recognize its shifts through time. Most importantly, we cannot resist the fact that whatever is happening in Egypt is people's voice for secular concerns..... and this itself represents democracy...which is also freedom of expression. We should have faith on people of Egypt as it is they and no one else to decide what and how there future should be. A conscious mass is the ultimate check in democracy, we should not forget it.

    February 6, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. GodAllah

    Really I'm quite insulted that all you sheep think my infinite knowledge and wisdom can be summed up in one book. For your information I don't think stoning or slavery is cool. I also don't believe in "An eye for an eye". An eye for an eye makes everyone blind. Oh and no I don't want you to slaughter cute baby lambs in my name either. That's just weird. I'm not some bloodthirsty demon hungry for the blood of baby animals. What's wrong with you people!?

    February 6, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Angry Mob

    Rabble Rabble!!! Its you're fault! No its yours!

    February 6, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Egyptian

    1- The Gas pipe incident was an accident as Mubarak's regime claimed.
    2- Then, the first opposition to be allowed to meet VP for talks was the Muslim brother hood!!
    3- Now, I can see the card Mubarak's regim playing with: Muslim brotherhood = scare Israel + longer in power
    More and more tricks like this will follow unless an assertive representative like
    Mr Mr El-Baradei goes to the square & ask these poor Egyptians standing for 13 days "“Do o you want me to represent your?”

    February 6, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. A Khan

    So many similarities between this Egyptian revolution against a dictator and the Mahatma Gandhi's fight for freedom against the British rule – based on the Gandhian philosophy of non-violence and non-cooperation.Time for the world to re-acknowledge the great Mahatma Gandhi and time for the Nobel Peace Prize committee to award him the Nobel Peace prize posthumo

    February 6, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Falesteeni

    Egyptians had enough of Amerikkka's Tyrants and Amerikkka's Tyranny . The ???is will the Americans rise up?

    February 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jon

    To me, this looks a lot like Iran 32 years ago. I think I have seen this movie before.

    February 6, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Angry Mob

    Is Obama part of Amerikkka? Just curious. He doesn't seem quite aryan enough. America (my country) does need to mind it's own problems first. I was reading about how the Vietnam war started and it was staggering how much money and aid kept changing from one puppet regime to the next. Both the Communists and the Capitalists were basically using Vietnam as a chess board. If America keeps to itself in both terms of money and weaponry then we will be better off. Let the little roach warlords fight each other. America can protect herself.

    February 6, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy

    @K Bart:

    What would you have Obama do? I can see your criticism if the conflict was here in the US and he did that, but c'mom! So what? I KNOW you're not gonna watch the Superbowl because of the conflict in Egypt, right? Riiiiiiigggghhhhttt!

    February 6, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tomas

    The revolution is not religious, nor radical extremism from terrorist arabs. This time, its about freedom, and rights. Let's pray our fellow beings are awarded their god given rights with less oppression!

    February 6, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Pieter

    The vacuum that will be left if Murbarak leaves will destroy the Egyptian economy and social fabric for years to come. Somehow finding a way of transition is the best option.

    February 6, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. duke

    Fear and propaganda drive the lives of too many idiots!
    The Muslim Brotherhood!
    I like them just because Israel and SS Palin don't,I think they are more in line with the people than any one dictator that America will try and install.

    February 6, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. deedee

    Why cast the blame on one man? If the problem is lack of jobs, then who creates jobs? If the problem is lack of opportunity, who creates opportunity? If the problem is corruption, then who controls corruption? If the problem is low wages, then who are the employees paying low wages? These are some of the states reasons for the protests. Throughout the world from time immortal these issues exists and temporarily rectify by revolt and much bloodshed, and yet history repeats itself because we fail to realize that these issues cannot be legislated, but can only be correct from within ourselves. We much each strive to do what is morally right. We must learn and practice to love our neighbor as we love ourselves and treat each other as we want to be treated. The emotionalism that primarily the young people have been caught up in has clearly not be thought out. What happens if the head of the country leaves NOW as they demands? It's like the CEO of a company or the lead surgeon walking away NOW without a proper plan in place for transition. Oddly enough for thirty years the parents of these youngsters and perhaps these youngsters put Mubarak in power, oddly enough these people have destroyed hotels and other places of business and the lack of jobs is one of the things they are complaining about. Oddly enough they have been without wages for a week, yet the lack of money is an issue. In the thirty years Mubarak has been in power he must have done some good in Egypt. The correct thing is to give him credit for the good he has done and then discuss the things in need of change. I have always learned that when coming with complaints one should also come with solutions. To date I have not heard one common sense solution coming from the protestors. The situation there is made worse by western journalist adding their opinions and speculation without any basis and giving a serious situation another news cycle ratings event. If anything the USA should be watching and preparing for is an outbreak of a similar situation here on American soil. If indeed the issue is lack of opportunity, rising food prices, oppression of the poor, corruption, and the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, one see that all across cities and towns here in America. I am reminded of the Haitian revolt which led to the French revolt and then the American revolution. If we are to learn anything, it should be that democracy in voting for a candidate of one's choice does absolute nothing in changing one's economic status. What changes one's economic status is the honesty of those elected to do the right thing each and every time. If democracy was the answer, why did the greatest democracy on earth go to the greatest communistic country on earth for help in times of economic hardship?

    February 6, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • abdullah

      Your comments are so theoretical. The actions of people of Egypt, and the protest in Liberation Square stem from 30 years of a military dictatorship, which never allowed the people a say in how they are goverened.

      Through those 30 years of terror and abuse by Mubaraki and his regime, the Egyptian people could not protest or complain about the government for fear of being beaten, or locked up in prison, where Mubarak's prisons were notorious torture chambers.

      The hatred that the people of Egypt feel for Mubarak is visceral. They have held their hate inside of themselves all of these years. Now that they can release their feelings and express their pent up rage and hate for Mubarak and his regime, they want Mubarak to step down and leave Egypt. There is just that much hate for Mubarak.

      Dictator Mubarak, propped up by the military, is so out of touch with the people of Egypt that he did not realize how much hatred the people of Egypt held toward him.

      This is not theory or some intellectural expose. It is real and it is what is taking place in the streets of Egypt. Right now, jobs, housing, all of the things that you wirte about, are secondary to expunging Mubarak from the collective body of the Egyptian people. The things you speak of – jobs, housing etc, will come about after the people win their freedom from the dictator Hosni Mubarak.

      The people of Egypt are resilient and will make a future for themselves without Barak and his oppressive regime.

      February 6, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
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