Egypt’s most prominent reform advocate called on Sunday for President Hosni Mubarak to resign after the powerful military stepped up its presence across the anarchic capital, closing roads with tanks and sending F-16 fighter jets streaking over downtown.
Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei appeared in Tahrir Square around 7 p.m. “You are the owners of this revolution. You are the future,” he told the cheering crowd.
“Our essential demand is the departure of the regime and the beginning of a new Egypt in which each Egyptian lives in virtue, freedom and dignity.”
The army’s show of force appeared aimed at quelling looting, armed robbery and arson that broke out alongside pro-democracy protests and have turned the cultural heart of the Arab world into a tableau of once-unimaginable scenes of chaos.
The military made no attempt to disperse some 5,000 protesters gathered at Tahrir Square, a plaza in the heart of downtown Cairo that protesters have occupied since Friday afternoon.
They had violated the curfew to call for the ouster of Mubarak’s regime, which they blame for poverty, unemployment, widespread corruption and police brutality.