Video: Shaky truce holds in Egypt

  1. Closed captioning of: Shaky truce holds in Egypt

    >>> in egypt tonight, news of a truce between police and protesters after days of blood shed in and around tahrir square. meantime there are new developments involving three american teens being held in an egyptian jail. for the latest we turn to amon in cairo tonight. good evening.

    >> reporter: good evening, savannah. it's been a week of deadly protests and thousands remain in tahrir square behind me. they are calling for a million man march on friday that is going to be a political showdown between the protesters and the military rulers. it was the front line of intense fighting all week long. this street off of tahrir square, the site of day-long battles between egyptian security forces and protesters that continued late into wednesday evening. by thursday morning, a shaky truce seemed to be sticking. the military erecting a barrier to separate the two sides. the fighting on the street may have stopped, but the political standoff still continues. battered but still determined, protesters are demanding the military immediately hand over power to a civilian government. not so fast, says egypt 's military rulers, refusing to take their marching orders from the tahrir protesters. they say the path to democracy begins with monday's parliamentary election, which this general says will take place on schedule. but the military has made some concessions, apologizing publicly for the killing of protesters and releasing some of those detained in the fighting. among those ordered freed on thursday, three american university students shown here on state tv. they were arrested, accused of attacking security forces . charges that were later dismissed. award-winning egyptian filmmaker who was detained during wednesday's fighting and prominent egyptian american activist, who was also detained tells of a terrifying ordeal.

    >> broke my left arm and my right hand, hit me on the head with a stick and then sexual sort of gropes everywhere.

    >> reporter: a sense of calm returning to the streets tonight along with anxiety over egypt 's future. savannah, the military has been under intense pressure ever since an interim government resigned. this evening nbc news has learned they have appointed a new prime minister to form an emergency cabinet, but the protesters aren't convinced he'll be given the power he needs to

NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 11/24/2011 7:39:37 PM ET 2011-11-25T00:39:37

Activists vowed to crank up pressure on Egypt's generals on Friday, a day after a court ordered the release of three American students arrested during the unrest in Cairo.

Demonstrators plan an overwhelming show of people power to cap almost a week of protests against army rule that have left 41 people dead.

State media said the army leaders picked a political veteran in his late 70s to form a national salvation government, a choice that was quickly snubbed by many of the young activists who have led the demonstrations in Tahrir Square.

Kamal Ganzouri agreed in principle to lead the new government after meeting the head of the military council, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the website of state newspaper Al Ahram reported, citing sources close to Ganzouri.

As talk of a Ganzouri appointment filtered through the crowds thronging Tahrir on Thursday night, discussion quickly focused on his age.

"Ganzouri is no good for this transitional period, which needs youth leaders not grandparents," said student Maha Abdullah.

Three American students are displayed to the camera by Egyptian authorities following their arrest during protests in Cairo on Nov. 22.
Egyptian TV via AP
Three American students are displayed to the camera by Egyptian authorities following their arrest during protests in Cairo, where an Egyptian official said they were throwing firebombs at security forces. A spokeswoman for the American University in Cairo identified the students as Luke Gates, Derrik Sweeney and Gregory Porter.

Freedom ordered for US students
Meantime, freedom was expected for three Americans who attend the American University in Cairo. Derrik Sweeney, a 19-year-old Georgetown University student, Luke Gates, a 21-year-old Indiana University student, and Gregory Porter, a 19-year-old Drexel University student, were arrested on Sunday on the American University roof near Tahrir Square where they were allegedly throwing firebombs at security forces fighting with protesters.

Attorney Theodore Simon, who represents Porter, from a Philadelphia suburb, said his client remained in custody at a police station as of Thursday afternoon Eastern time.

Video: Protesters throw stones, conflict grows in Cairo (on this page)

But Simon said he was able to speak by phone with Porter, describing the student's demeanor as "calm and measured, demonstrating a maturity well beyond his 19 years."

"He was extremely thankful and appreciative for our efforts and the unconditional support of his mother and father," Simon said.

Sweeney's mother, Joy Sweeney, said she is "absolutely elated" at the news of her 19-year-old son's release.

"I can't wait to give him a huge hug and tell him how much I love him," she said, adding that the news of the court order was the best Thanksgiving gift.

Meanwhile an American film maker and journalist was arrested by Egyptian police while documenting clashes in Tahrir Square, she told a colleague by phone.

Karim Amer, the producer for Jehane Nojaim — an award-winning film maker of Egyptian ancestry who is best-known for her al-Jazeera TV documentary "Control Room" — said Nojaim was detained and her camera was confiscated.

Amer said he was separated from her after they both fled from tear gas.

Egyptian-American columnist and activist Mona Eltahawy, who regularly appears on news channels as a self-described "speaker on Arab and Muslim issues" was also reportedly arrested in Cairo.

"Beaten arrested in interior ministry," she posted on her Twitter account overnight.

She tweeted "I AM FREE" at about 5:30 a.m. ET, and then sent several messages saying she had been beaten and sexually assaulted, using strong language to condemn the Egyptian police.

She also said her right hand was "so swollen I can't close it." She posted a picture of her hand. She tweeted she was being taken to hospital.

The U.S. Department of State tweeted early Thursday that it was aware of the reports that Nojaim and Elthawy had been arrested and said the U.S. Embassy in Cairo was "engaging authorities."

Military apologizes
Egypt's military also issued a statement on Thursday apologizing for the loss of life and vowing to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of protesters in Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square and elsewhere in the country.

Slideshow: Protests continue in Egypt (on this page)

Army troops have used metal bars and barbed wire to build barricades to separate the protesters and the police on side streets leading from Tahrir to the nearby Interior Ministry. Most of the fighting has been taking place on those side streets.

A truce came into force around 6 a.m. and was still holding late Thursday.

In a communique, protesters called the million-man march on "the Friday of the last chance" for the army to hand over power.

The Egyptian Independent Trade Union Federation called for a workers' march to Tahrir. Another labor rights group called for a general strike to back the protests. Labour unions played an important role in the movement that toppled Mubarak.

Supporters of the army council had said they would hold a rally to back the military. In a statement on its Facebook page, the army council said it was "appealing to them to cancel the demonstration," saying it wanted to avoid divisions.

Suspicion that the army will continue to wield power behind an elected civilian administration has grown in recent weeks as the government and political parties tussled over the shape of a new constitution.

The military council originally promised to return to barracks within six months of the fall of Mubarak, but then set a timetable for elections and drawing up the constitution that would have left it in power until late next year or early 2013.

The Associated Press, Reuters and NBC News contributed to this report.

Photos: Protests continue in Egypt

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  1. People take part in Friday prayers in Cairo's Tahrir Square before a mass rally on Nov. 25. Thousands of Egyptians continue to occupy the square ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for Nov. 28. (Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Egyptian protesters pray during a march in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Nov. 25. Egypt's ruling military council appointed Kamal Ganzouri on Friday as prime minister to form "a national salvation government" to replace the cabinet that resigned earlier in the week. (Esam Omran Al-Fetori / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Supporters of the Egyptian Armed Forces shout slogans and wave Egyptian national flags on a road near the defence ministry, headquarters of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, at Abbasiya square in Cairo Nov. 25. More than 5,000 pro-army Egyptians rallied as Egypt's military rulers named a veteran politician as prime minister in an attempt to quell mass protests that have killed 41 people.

    Story: Egypt military woos public to keep power (Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Volunteers clean up garbage and rocks on Nov. 24 after clashes in Alexandria, Egypt. Protesters and police observed a truce after violence that killed 39 people in five days. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A riot policeman fires a gun, allegedly at protesters, during clashes on a side street near Tahrir Square. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Wounded protesters are driven away to a makeshift hospital in Tahrir Square on Nov. 23. (Andre Pain / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. A protester wears a gas mask, goggles and a pail to protect himself from tear gas canisters lobbed by riot police during clashes near Tahrir Square on Nov. 23. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. An Egyptian soldier tries to keep thousands of protesters away from riot policemen during a demonstration in Tahrir Square during the fourth day of clashes with security forces on Nov. 22. Demonstrators are demanding an end to military rule, heightening tension after days of deadly clashes that threaten to derail next week's legislative polls. (Khaled Desouki / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Egypt's Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, longtime defence minister who is now the country's de facto ruler, addresses the nation in a televised speech in Cairo on Nov. 22. The head of Egypt's ruling military council accepted the cabinet's resignation and said the military was ready to hold a referendum for immediate transfer of power. (Egyptian state TV / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A protester displays empty tear gas canisters as others chant slogans during clashes with riot police in Cairo on Nov. 22. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Protesters carry a wounded comrade to a nearby hospital on a motorcycle during a demonstration by tens of thousands of Egyptians in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Nov. 22. (Khaled Desouki / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Protesters pack Cairo's Tahrir Square on Nov. 22 as clashes between police and protesters demanding democratic change entered a fourth day. (Khaled Desouki / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Protesters take shelter behind a wall during clashes with riot police on a side street near Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday, Nov. 22. Egyptians frustrated with military rule battled police in the streets as the generals scrambled to cope with the cabinet's proffered resignation after bloodshed that has jolted plans for the country's first free election in decades. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Riot police stand behind flames from molotov cocktails during clashes with protesters on a side street near Tahrir Square on Nov. 22. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. An ambulance makes its way through thousands of protesters as they attend a funeral of a victim of earlier clashes in Tahrir Square on Nov. 22. (Khaled Desouki / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A riot police officer fires tear gas during clashes with protesters near Tahrir Square on Nov. 22. (Khalil Hamra / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A protester throws a tear gas canister, which was earlier thrown by riot police during clashes along a road which leads to the Interior Ministry, near Tahrir Square on Nov. 22. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Protesters carry a wounded man during clashes with riot police near Tahrir Square on Nov. 22. (Khalil Hamra / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. People carry the body of a protester who was killed in clashes with the riot police during his funeral in Tahrir Square on Nov. 22. (Khalil Hamra / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Protesters clash with riot police in Alexandria on Nov. 21. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Protesters stand in line to protect the field hospital in Tahrir Square, Cairo, on Nov. 21. (Mohamed Hossam / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Protesters run from tear gas fired by riot police during clashes in Tahrir Square on Nov. 21. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. An injured protester is helped away during clashes with security forces in Tahrir Square on Nov. 21. (Khaled Desouki / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Protesters throw stones at riot police firing tear gas and rubber bullets near Tahrir Square on Nov 21. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. A protester winces after being exposed to tear gas during clashes near Tahrir Square in Cairo on Nov. 21. (Asmaa Waguih / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. A riot policeman aims a shotgun with rubber bullets at protesters, next to a plainclothes policeman during clashes in Cairo on Nov. 21. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Protesters carry a man injured during clashes with riot police in Cairo on Nov. 21. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. A protester stands on top of a burned car in a Cairo street on Nov. 21. (Khalil Hamra / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. An Egyptian protester hurls a tear gas canister back at security forces as others run for cover on the third day of clashes at Tahrir Square in Cairo on Nov. 21. (Mohammed Hossam / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Two Egyptian protesters help a man overcome with tear gas during clashes in Tahrir square, in Cairo, Egypt, on Nov. 21. (Mohammed Abu Zaid / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. An Egyptian protester sprays water on the eyes of a fellow demonstrator after tear gas was fired by security forces in Tahrir Square on Nov. 21. (Mohammed Hossam / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Canadian volunteer nurse, Merikel, right, helps an Egyptian medical team treat an injured protester at a field hospital at Tahrir Square in Cairo on Nov. 21. (Amr Nabil / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. A protester climbs a burned building to rescue residents trapped by fire during clashes with police in Cairo on Nov. 21. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. An Egyptian protester shouts during clashes with security forces at Tahrir Square in Cairo on Nov. 21. (Mohammed Hossam / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Firemen try to put out a fire started by protesters during clashes with police in front of the Security Administrative building in Alexandria, Egypt, on Sunday, Nov. 20. (Stringer / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. A protester overcome by tear gas kneels in the middle of the street during clashes with Egyptian riot police near the interior ministry downtown Cairo, Egypt, on Nov. 20. (Tara Todras-whitehill / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Egyptians protesters are pushed away by security forces during clashes in Cairo on Nov. 20. (Khaled Elfiqi / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Protesters run from riot police spraying tear gas, during clashes near Tahrir Square in Cairo on Nov. 20. (Asmaa Waguih / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. A protester receives medical treatment at a field hospital after being wounded in clashes with Egyptian riot police in Cairo on Nov. 20. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Egyptian protesters are confronted by riot police firing rubber bullets and tear gas in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Nov. 19. (Khaled Desouki / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Egyptian riot police clash with protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo on Nov. 19, as Egyptian riot police dismantled a small tent city set up to commemorate revolutionary martyrs in Cairo's Tahrir Square. (Khalil Hamra / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Egyptian youths attack a police vehicle in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Nov. 19. (Ahmed Khaled / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. Protesters chant slogans in Tahrir Square, the focal point of the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo on Nov. 18. (Khalil Hamra / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. Egyptian protesters take over Tahrir Square in Cairo on Nov. 18. (Khaled Elfiqi / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
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