Nightly News   |  February 01, 2011

Led by ‘Hope,’ protesters reject Mubarak’s concessions

Organized by a small group of volunteers who are led by a single mother whose name means hope in Arabic, protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Tuesday rejected President Mubarak’s concession that he will not seek another term in office. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening, once again, from cairo , as we mentioned, the big story back home across much of the u.s. might be a big storm. here it is a big storm of protest. what an important day here. the massive protest in the place they call liberation square not far from where we were. the crowd size, what they wanted to get to was their target of 1 million . it appears they came very close. part two of the dramatic day, the man the protesters want out of office went on the air to say he intends to do just that, and not stand for re-election, but that's not until september. and for most of the people, you can still hear chanting behind us late here tonight. that's not good enough for them. we have this entire city covered, this entire region and story covered. our team is in place again tonight led by richard engel , who was out in it for most of this day. richard, good evening once again.

>> good evening, brian. president mubarak made an announcement. he appeared to take a hardline, even while promising to make his biggest concession yet. in a highly anticipated television address, mubarak announced he would not seek re-election in september and would set unspecified term limits . i will work for the remaining months in my term to guarantee the peaceful transition of power, he said. but mubarak also hinted a crackdown could be coming. he stressed his ties to the army, and said egypt must choose between chaos and stability. mubarak said he would die in egypt. the protesters expected much more. the reaction here has been immediate and angry. people saying mubarak must leave now, and there can be no other concessions. many of the demonstrators say the 82-year-old mubarak 's concession that he will not stand for another six-year term is no concession at all.

>> we want him to leave our country.

>> reporter: the demonstrators feel they have momentum and mubarak on the ropes after gathering hundreds of thousands of people today in cairo 's main square . earlier in the day the mood was like a carnival. families were out together for the first time. but the protesters are giving mubarak a deadline. the protests today have mostly been peaceful. if mubarak doesn't step down by friday, they will resume clashes. who's organizing this revolution? and how do you set up a million strong protests when the government has cut the internet? i was surprised when i visited the protesters' tiny control room, an office with just ten volunteers. this operation is run by a soft-spoken, 36-year-old english teach teacher named amal shareef. a single mother , she's been awake for 24 hours and makes hundreds of cell phone calls a day. just think about it, ten people. a mother of a 10-year-old girl, another bunch of college educated young people . you're organizing a revolt here in cairo . a revolution. do you think it will work?

>> i think it will work. we didn't think it would go this far.

>> reporter: the protests are continuing and unlike earlier in the day, now are furious. already tonight there are clashes in alexandria between president mubarak supporters and protesters. this could escalate even before friday.

>> that's right. the days to come remain crucial. as we keep saying, a new stage every day. richard engel leading off our coverage here tonight.