Nightly News | February 09, 2011
WILLIAMS: Good evening.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Over the past 24 hours, we've seen some of the biggest crowds ever in that main square in Cairo . Tonight we're seeing something else. This people's revolt is spreading to other fronts in ways that will further pressure Egyptian authorities, and more pressure is being applied from the outside now on a regime that is still there, still in place and in charge. Again tonight to Cairo we go and our chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel . Richard , good evening.
RICHARD ENGEL reporting: Good evening, Brian . A new group of Egyptians joined this movement today, government workers. A threat to a regime desperate to keep the economy going. The revolt is spreading to where Egypt could feel it most, its work force. For the first time there were dozens of spontaneous strikes across Egypt in at least 14 key industries, including oil and gas, electricity, and near the Suez Canal itself. At the oil ministry, hundreds protested against unfair wages and mismanagement. Hundreds more spilled outside Cairo 's electric company. They called President Mubarak a dictator. But the real anger was directed at their bosses, allowed to prosper in a corrupt system. When we arrived, we were surrounded as workers unleashed frustrations pent up for years.
Unidentified Man #1:
ENGEL: 'The manager only appoints members of his family,' a man screamed. 'Pay isn't enough, and it's delayed,' they complained. They say they are going on strike not only for democracy, but for basic workers' rights. Pressure is also mounting on Egypt 's Vice President Omar Suleiman , the former intelligence chief and a close ally of the United States . Almost daily he gets calls from Vice President Biden asking for, quote, "immediate, irreversible progress that responds to the aspirations of the Egyptian people ." The United States wants Egypt to stop arresting journalists and activists, immediately lift martial law, and widen negotiations to include more of the opposition. But pressure is also coming from Israel , Jordan , Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for Egypt to go slow, fearing a wave of instability across the Middle East that could benefit extremists. And then there's the protesters themselves, still defiant, past the point of no return .
Unidentified Man #2:
ENGEL: Many believe if they stop and the government stays, they'll be arrested or worse. So you think if you back down now there will be a crack...
Unidentified Man #3: We will hang and be in jail. They assure us they will not penalize anybody who contribute to this revolution. Lots of lies.
ENGEL: The government statements are having almost no impact on the demonstrators. They say they can't be tricked by promises of compromise or frightened away by threats.
Unidentified Man #4: I don't think you can stand up towards the whole population of Egypt . It's pretty hard. The whole population of Egypt is against the regime. The revolution is here.
ENGEL: More strikes are planned for tomorrow. Demonstrators are calling for millions to take to the streets on Friday. Demonstrators tonight, Brian , are already sending out text messages to organize for Friday's protests. They could be the biggest yet. Brian :
WILLIAMS: All right, Richard Engel starting us off in Cairo again tonight. Richard , thanks.