Mubarak Reportedly Has Stroke as Egyptians Stage Massive Protest

Former leader was rushed to a military hospital as the Tahrir crowds gathered.

ByABC News
June 19, 2012, 5:21 PM

June 19, 2012— -- Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was rushed to a military hospital after suffering a stroke today, stoking public confusion over his condition.

State media reported that Mubarak was clinically dead, but his lawyer denied this. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said the 84-year-old Mubarak was moved from the hospital in Torah Prison to nearby Maadi Hospital in southern Cairo.

There have been conflicting unconfirmed reports about Mubarak's worsening condition, including that his heart stopped briefly and that he had suffered a stroke.

This all came on a day that has been a mix of anger and defiance, and a real sense of déjà vu in Cairo's Tahrir Square, birthplace of the Egyptian revolution. Tens of thousands of Egyptians have jammed the square, a huge and thus far peaceful show of strength against the Egyptian military.

"Look at all the people here," a man in the crowd told ABC News. "You know that the Egyptian revolution will succeed."

The pace of events is nothing less than stunning. In the last forty-eight hours, the military has grabbed more constitutional powers, the presidency has been weakened, the long-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood has declared victory for its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, and today the campaign of his rival – former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq – says in fact he has won.

Following the military's power, the Muslim Brotherhood asked followers to go to the streets, and tonight tens of thousands of Egyptians heeded the call. They returned to Tahrir Square, where so much passion and blood was expended a year and a half ago. Most are supporters of Morsi, widely believed to have won the weekend vote. The Tahrir rally is part celebration, part warning shot to the ruling military council. In effect it's a people's declaration: if the military tries to hold power after the vote, they will return to the streets to safeguard their revolution.

"The first word comes from here," one man told ABC News in Tahrir Square. "The power comes from the people."

The scene in Tahrir was almost identical to scenes witnessed during last year's uprising. Adding to that feeling of déjà vu, the other newsmaker tonight was none other than former President Hosni Mubarak, who was rushed to a military hospital as the Tahrir crowds were gathering. Various reports said Mubarak had suffered either heart failure or a stroke. Even given the many twists and turns of the Egyptian uprising, it was a bizarre confluence of bulletins from Cairo: Mubarak returning to the headlines, just as his enemies returned to the streets where they fought to bring him down. One tweet put it this way: "Mubarak trying to upstage Egypt, again."

For now the crowds appear peaceful, though many told us they would not leave until their fight was won – again, language remarkably similar to that of the early days of the revolution.

Meanwhile, all kinds of questions hang over Tahrir Square tonight. How long will the protestors stay? Will security forces act against them? Will the competing claims of victory lead to violence? What will the military do? And will Hosni Mubarak survive to see this latest crisis to its end?

A lot of uncertainty, for a critical nation in the Middle East. Nothing less than the revolution itself hangs in the balance.