Nightly News | February 07, 2011
WILLIAMS: Good evening.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Human Rights Watch now says 297 people have been killed in the fight for control of the streets, which is really a fight for the future of Egypt . While it's important for the protesters to keep up momentum, to stay angry, hold the world's attention, today both sides appeared to be in their own stalemate. The protesters have turned the main square into a quasi-permanent community, a village. And President Hosni Mubarak , despite everything being said about him, is still there, still in office in his job as president. We begin our coverage tonight once again with NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel in Cairo . Hey, Richard , good evening.
RICHARD ENGEL reporting: Good evening, Brian . This is now a standoff over power, trust and pride. President Mubarak says he will not step down under pressure, and the protests say they won't go until he does. Tahrir Square is now a camp city. It's more like a sit-in than last week's violent revolution . The army's protective cordon remains around the square, but protesters worry the military will push them out, so they formed a human shield around the tanks to stop an advance.
Unidentified Man: We will stay here to defend our revolution. We will stay here and sleep under this tank until Mubarak get out.
ENGEL: These protesters fought to take this square. Today they held a mock funeral here for one of their martyrs. They won't give it up easily. At an aid station, volunteer doctors and nurses still treat the wounded, averaging one every five minutes. In a tent, a group of men offer me breakfast.
Everyone shares here. They're united by a single goal: 'We won't leave unless Mubarak leaves. Enough of the oppression,' he said. While protesters are ready for a long standoff, the government is trying to undercut them by promising to implement nearly everything they've asked for. Yesterday the new vice president met opposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood , which supports Islamic law . The government said it would eventually lift the decades-old martial law, allow more press freedom, and make elections democratic. But can the government be believed? And then there's President Mubarak . The government says he'll stay until the fall to finish out his term with dignity. But the biggest change in Cairo now is cars are out, banks are open, the government announced today state employees will even receive 15 percent raises. That's raises for five million people. Across Cairo , the city is starting to open up. But there's also a frustration here that the last two weeks of chaos have disrupted this country's economy, and a feeling that the protests have gone on long enough. In the main bazaar, Baha Sayed opened his small store today but only dusts off the souvenirs. No tourists, no business. Egyptians are now divided, with many wanting democracy but not unrest. In the square, the protesters say Egyptians shouldn't give up yet and must keep the pressure on or risk losing their revolution. The protesters tell us they're not stubborn, but they are skeptical because President Mubarak has made promises to do many of these reforms before, but not carried them out.
Brian: Amazing to see the stores open, that's a start. They were all shuttered up when we were there last week. Richard Engel in Cairo , starting off our coverage again tonight. Richard , thanks.