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protesters clashing in egypt Opposition supporters scream in their stronghold of Tahrir Square, in Cairo February 10, 2011. (Photo: REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)

Egyptian President Steps Down

One day after refusal, Murabak resigns

By Fred Hechinger | null null , null

BREAKING NEWS (Feb. 11, 11:15 am): Shouts of "Freedom" rang throughout Egypt on Friday as Hosni Mubarak became the first Egyptian President to ever resign. Mubarak’s resignation came only a day after a defiant televised speech in which he refused to leave the office he held for 30 years.
 
Mostly non-violent protests have been under way in Tahrir Square in the capital city of Cairo for several weeks. When Labor Unions around the nation went on strike Thursday, it appeared Mubarak was ready to concede defeat. The strikes could close down the Suez Canal and possibly stop the flow of gas and oil production.
 
An angry roar of "Get Out! Get Out!" spread throughout the square as Mubarak spoke and people began to realize he was not resigning after all. Protestors quickly moved to assemble at the presidential palace.
 
The next day, at the Palace, another announcement from Vice President Omar Suleiman turned a massive protest into a celebration. Suleiman announced that the military will take over control of the country for now.
 
Fox Radio Reporter Courtney Kealy spent 10 days on the ground in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, recently covering the uprising against Mubarak. She recently corresponded with Scholastic Kid Reporter Fred Hechinger via email about the situation.

Kid Reporter: Explain to my audience, which is elementary and middle school students, what is going on in Egypt?
 
Courtney Kealy: Many Egyptians have been demonstrating, demanding that President Mubarak resign. They started organizing on Twitter and Facebook, and after that the President closed service to cell phones and Internet all across Egypt. So the protesters took to the streets, fighting the police who used tear gas and live gunfire as well as bird shot-like pellets to try to fight them back. They started a sit-in in Tahrir Square the last Friday of January and remain today.

Kid Reporter: How do you stay safe while reporting the events occurring in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt? Has your life been in danger?

Kealy: I had to take extra precautions when the security situation deteriorated, and move slowly into situations after assessing them. For instance last Wednesday when pro Mubarak regimists took to the streets, I could tell they were ready for a fight as I watched from my hotel balcony as the crowds ran towards the Tahrir Square protesters. I also was warned by an Egyptian journalist who received a text message saying armed thugs were surging onto the streets. Other friends from other news organizations and I sent each other texts to check on each other's safety and warned each other to stay inside because journalists were getting beaten up by mobs.

Kid Reporter: Why do you think all the violence and protests are happening now? Mubarak has been in power for decades – why now? What sparked this?

Kealy: The recent uprising in Tunisia influenced Egypt. President Mubarak has run a police state where human rights are not respected and he has held rigged elections so that no one had a choice to elect another leader.

Kid Reporter: How are you getting information out of the country with disruptions in the Internet service?

Kealy: The day everything was shut down, I could only make calls from my hotel phone line. It was very hard to get calls out. Then I started using my iPhone and cell phone. I have what is called a bgan which is a satellite hybrid that connects to your computer and gives you Internet access. Then the Internet was finally turned back on and I used that. My hotel phone bill was thousands and thousands of dollars in long distance phone calls!

Kid Reporter: How long were you in Egypt and what was your experience like?

Kealy: I was there for 10 days and the courage and resilience of the anti-Mubarak protesters made it a dream story of a lifetime. I expect I will go back because I cover the region. But another reporter was rotated in to give me a rest.

Kid Reporter: Who is your audience? Where are your stories going?

Kealy: More than 800 radio stations all across the country. I also went on air doing "phoners"—live chats over the phone—on Fox News and Fox Business News. I also Twitter and have a Facebook fan page where I post my stories and blogs.

Kid Reporter: Where are you from?

Kealy: I grew up in New York City and still consider it my hometown. The hardest part of my job is being far away from my friends and family.

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