The Faces of Egypt's Protesters

Protesters in Liberation Square, Cairo, Egypt, Feb. 1, 2011. From the CBS Evening News.

CAIRO - Many people who have been moved to participate in the revolt never imagined themselves as revolutionaries, and revolutionaries like the three Nageeb sisters are hoping to rewrite Egyptian history.

"Why is today important?" asked CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann.

"It's now or never," says Noor Nageeb.

"We have to stand up," says her sister Layla.

Stand up and be counted in Liberation Square's rally. Layla Nageeb, 23, says crowd size matters.

"Morally it matters," she says. "The more people in the streets, the more we feel like this is going to be something, the more it's going to come, a result is going to come."

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By and large the faces of this revolt are political and religious moderates, not professional protesters, but in many cases, educated, secular, first-time activists.

They're fed up and fired up, too.

Suleiman and Shariff Muradeef are from different generations but have the same dream, an end to what Muradeef calls "living in darkness."

"We don't care who's going to be the next president as long as it is a democracy," says Muradeef.

Signs everywhere spell it out: the goal of this Egyptian revolution.

"This is the first revolution in the whole history of Egypt. And I'm happy that I lived to see it," says Suleimin.

They're trying to oust a dictatorial president with persistent but peaceful protests. Part of the reason why this is such a reasonable revolt is the Egyptian army. They promised no rough stuff and then created a safe space for this protest to happen.

As the security here, soldiers have been calming, not controlling.

"[The army] made it safe for you to be here?" said Strassmann to a group of men. They each answer with a "Yes."

Danny Kareed is 24 and jobless.

"You feel safe here?" Strassmann asks him.

"Yes of course," says Kareed.

Kareed feels less secure about his future if Mubarak stays.

"I want a job that I can pay all the bills, I can have a good life, I can have a good apartment, get married one day," he says.

The average dreams of average people. In Liberation Square, this is a revolt for hope. Even the moderates in this crowd seem in no mood to compromise. They want Mubarak gone and they want it now.

These are by and large reasonable people and they're relaxed people because the army has made it safe for them to protest. It's a new and exhilarating feeling to a lot of the people.

It's also a well organized crowd. Without any central leadership they've organized themselves to check IDs and pick up trash around the area. This is a true grassroots protest and it seems to have staying power.

  • strassmannbio2011.jpg
    Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.