Egypt copied Iranian tactics of two years ago and used brutal force against anti-government protesters Saturday, killed up to 108.
Meanwhile, Israel was the first country to evacuate diplomats and their families. Philippine is preparing to evacuate 6,500 Filipinos working and studying in Egypt in case the situation grows worse.
The Foreign Ministry said it brought in special flights to carry diplomatic families and 40 other Israelis visiting and who wanted to leave Egypt. The Israeli government so far has stayed quiet in the growing crisis, but Jerusalem unofficially has expressed concern that a long period of instability might replace Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, if he is forced to resign.
The Palestinian Authority has expressed solidarity with Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt with an iron hand for 30 years.
Protesters have followed the lead of Tunisia two weeks ago who bought about the end of the rule of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Egypt has responded with club-wielding and riot police, who also are using live fire. The death toll in the protests has ranged from 75 to 108, and at least eight were killed by gunshots near a Cairo jail after several police stations and government buildings were set on fire.
Although the Egyptian government has said it is operating with “zero tolerance as is acting like Iran in the 2009 street protests in, “the barrier of fear has collapsed, according to one Middle East expert.
“Obviously the [Mubarak] regime has decided to crack down very hard on the protesters, but the protesters and the popular uprising [are] much more deeply entrenched,” Fawaz Gerges, director of the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics, told Al Jazeera. “The most important point … is that the barrier of fear has collapsed, has fallen. Egyptians now are no longer terrified of the security apparatus as they used to be,” he said.
Egyptian forces Friday took into custody Nobel Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, the former chief of the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog agency who is the most prominent and anti-government figure. He was placed under house arrest.
Relative quiet has returned to the streets as Egypt continues to keep social Internet networks and cellular phones shut down, although partial service was restored Saturday afternoon.
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