By Marwa Al-A’asar
CAIRO: Thousands flocked to the Presidential Palace in Heliopolis on Friday morning to join other protesters that had camped out there the night before.
A few hundred had headed there Thursday night after Hosni Mubarak’s speech where he handed over power to the vice president without yet stepping down. By 2 pm on Friday, the crowd had swelled to 1,000, with a strong presence of women, many of whom were leading the anti-regime chants.
The crowd steadily grew as thousands were seen heading to the east Cairo district from the central Tahrir Square and elsewhere.
The area surrounding the Presidential Palace was heavily guarded by Republican Guard tanks and soldiers and barbed wire. Earlier calls to protest at the palace were dismissed out of concerns for the safety of the protesters and to avoid a possible confrontation with the army.
“We marched from Tahrir. We have state TV, parliament … We have to come to take the presidency; we have to uproot the corruption and institute clean roots,” Osama Abdel-Moenim told Daily News Egypt.
About 50 Mubarak supporters stood on the other side, holding a banner in support of Mubarak.
A group of about 1,000 were reportedly protesting on the vital Salah Salem Road near the Presidential Palace.
Thousands were also camped at the heavily guarded television building close to Tahrir Square. Protesters there, whose numbers have been increasing throughout the day, were preventing TV staff from entering the area.
Some protesters spent Thursday night outside the Maspero television building and were joined by tens of thousand following Friday prayers. They spread out along Corniche El-Nil Street all the way to the nearby Foreign Ministry building.
One protester told Daily News Egypt that they chose Maspero specifically to protest against the state media, which did not tell people the truth about what’s going on in Egypt.
“And we confirm, we are here to protest peacefully not to attempt to destroy the TV building,” he said.
The surrounding area was protected by seven army tanks. Protesters stood over one of the tanks outside the Maspero, chanting and singing against the regime.
Protesters said they were not forced to leave by either the police or the armed forces. A few hours later, most of them left the scene to join protests in Tahrir Square.
Earlier, about 5,000 marched from Nour Mosque in Abbassiya towards Tahrir. A car carrying the picture of one protester killed in the Jan. 28-29 violence was moving at the heart of the anti-regime demonstration.
They crowd chanted against Hosni Mubarak and Vice President Omar Suleiman.
One protester said she joined because the march was intended to commemorate martyrs, but decided to stay as protesters shouted anti-regime chants.
A group of 30-50 men who identified themselves as supporters of the ruling National Democratic Party harassed the Daily News Egypt journalist at the scene. Another reporter was held by the army and the police there for an hour, before being released.
A few hundred demonstrators separated from the group after the Friday prayer, heading to the Presidential Palace in the other direction.
Closer to downtown, groups of thousands were seen heading towards Tahrir, from different directions.
One protester from Shubra said he brought his wife and two kids along to protest the regime. He said he did not believe the promises that Mubarak made in his speech on Thursday.
In Alexandria, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets after Friday prayers. Sheikh Ahmed Al-Mahalawi, delivering a sermon in Alexandria’s main mosque, told worshippers not to back down, Reuters reported.
“Do not retreat from your revolution because history will not retreat,” he said in a sermon broadcast by Al Jazeera television. He told the worshippers they were bringing down a “corrupt regime” that was not fit to govern, according to a Reuters report.
Thousands of Egyptian anti-government protesters march in Alexandria, Egypt, Friday, Feb. 1. (AP Photo/Tarek Fawzy)
Anti-government protestors demonstrate raising their shoes in front of the Egyptian national TV building, which is currently secured by the Egyptian Army, in central Cairo on February 11. (AFP Photo/Marco Longari)
Anti-government protesters flash Arabic banners with the names of martyrs of the Jan. 25 countrywide protests as they march in Suez, Egypt, Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. (AP Photo)