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More Than A Million Gather In Tahrir Square

Screengrab from Al Jazeera English: Live Stream
It is hard not to be moved by today's huge and very peaceful demonstration in Cairo's Tahrir Square - and similar demonstrations elsewhere in Egypt - estimated by Al Jazeera English to be well over one million people, with numbers possibly as high as two million, with crowds in surrounding streets trying to enter the square.

It is possible to set politics aside for a moment and simply reflect on - and empathize with - the sheer outpouring of emotion and energy of such a mass of humanity.

Astonishing, too, to think that these demonstrations in Egypt would have been unthinkable a week ago. These crowds are not the result of an organized movement, although some initially used Facebook and Twitter to initiate protests last week, and certainly both social networks have been critical around the world in communicating international support (from individuals, if not so swiftly from governments) to those who wish for peaceful change in Egypt.

But with Egypt's own internet - and, at the moment, mobile phone network - totally shut down by Mubarak's struggling regime, the mass crowds today are the result of Egyptians themselves, of different opinions and agendas, recognizing a defining moment in their country's history.

It will be fascinating to see what happens next. The Egyptian army's statement yesterday that they respected the will of the people and would not fire upon them was a key point in legitimizing and safeguarding today's remarkable show of numbers.

Will Hosni Mubarak will be in power at the end of this week? Predictions are that he will leave on Friday, February 4, where new mass demonstrations are planned. He is still trying desperately to cling to power - but increasingly his fate resembles that of Nicolae Ceausescu, who was ousted as leader of Romania by "People Power" in 1989.


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