Egyptians Outraged as Fears of Violence Grows

An anti-government protester holds up his shoes in Cairo's Tahrir Square as people react to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's televised statement to his nation Feb. 10, 2011.
AP Photo

CAIRO - In a matter of moments, expectation turned to outrage in Cairo's Tahrir Square with Hosni Mubarak's stunning announcement Thursday night that he's not stepping down as Egypt's president.

Complete Coverage: Anger in the Arab World

After 17 days of noisy protests in Tahrir Square, only one man could bring silence, the man they all want to leave. But the message he delivered was not what the crowd wanted to hear, CBS News Correspondent Terry McCarthy reports.

(Scroll down to watch a video of this report)

Their verdict was delivered in one Arabic word, over and over, "Erhal! Erhal!," or "Leave! Leave!"

The massive crowd was ready for a celebration. All day long, there were reports that Mubarak was on his way out. That's what protesters have been demanding for the past 17 days. But when he finally addressed his nation, he said he was staying put while transferring power to Vice President Omar Suleiman.

Mubarak promised to amend the constitution to make it easier for opposition candidates to run for office. He also made it clear he wants other nations to butt out of Egypt's affairs.

The stunned crowd in Tahrir Square waved shoes in anger and shouted once again for Mubarak to leave. Later, Suleiman called on the protesters to go home, but very few are leaving.

"They only agree on one thing, which is they need President Mubarak to leave," said protester Mohammed Badr. "That's the only request that they have now."

"We don't have any trust in this government and now in this president," said protester Samieh Ali. "Now he is making people like have more fights together."

The crowd's anger is growing, a very different mood from the optimism of the early evening when they heard the reports that Mubarak was about to make an important speech.

"It's over," shouted Ahmed Mohammed then as he stood under a poster reading "Game Over."

Convinced that Mubarak was leaving, people were dancing in the street, waving flags, holding candles and getting their faces painted with the colors of the Egyptian flag. Dr. Hani Yusuf, a surgeon, brought his wife and two daughters to the square for the first time, convinced he would witness history.

As rumors spread around Cairo that Mubarak might step down, people streamed into the square to join the celebration as they waited for an official announcement. When the announcement came, the celebrations stopped, replaced by anger and foreboding about a potential violent backlash to the president's speech.

"As an Egyptian I am really worried about the next period of time," said Badr. "They will be in the streets. There will be many people in the streets."

Minutes after the end of the speech, the crowd began calling for a million man march to be held after noon prayers Friday, determined not to give Mubarak the last word.

As the speech was ending and the message became clear, any family in the crowd with women and children immediately started hurrying for the exits. All evening long, the crowd really thought they'd won. But when it was snatched away from them, the crowd was probably more angry than it had ever been.