'This Week' Transcript: Crisis in Egypt

Transcript: Crisis in Egypt

ByABC News
January 30, 2011, 4:00 AM

CAIRO, Feb 6, 2011 — -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR (voice-over): This morning, we take you inside the uprising in Egypt for a special edition of "This Week," live from Cairo.

We were first inside the palace. We were first to speak with the embattled president. And today, more of my exclusive interview with the man who holds the key to Egypt's future. We have faced the mobs, our vehicles attacked.

(on-screen): Did they hurt you?

(voice-over): We have seen the rage and the violence. We have heard the people. Now the question everyone is asking: What next for Egypt? What will it mean for the United States and for the world?

A very special "This Week," "Crisis in Egypt," starts now.


AMANPOUR: Hello again from Cairo, where it has been an epic week here and across Egypt. The joy, the fear, the sheer power of people, the pathos of a president who tells me he knows his time is up, the almighty struggle just to bear witness to get the story out, and today, the start of an unprecedented new political process.

We have all the major actors, we have all the players, the massive moments in this electrifying drama. Whatever happens next, whatever becomes of this situation, the truth is that nothing will ever be the same in the Arab world, and that matters here and it matters to you. It has been the likes of which we have never seen before.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): This was the week that simmering tension in Tahrir Square boiled over, a change we could sense as early as Monday with a new display of force by the Egyptian army. As we approached the square, we saw more tanks, more armored vehicles, more foot soldiers trying to slow the traffic of protesters who've been streaming in for the past week.

(on-screen): We spoke to an army captain who doesn't want to go on camera, but he told me that his orders are to maintain discipline and to seal the square.

(voice-over): At one point, we got caught up in the crowd surging forward towards the square, but past the bottleneck, the shoving stopped, and the protesters seemed to be in good spirits.

(UNKNOWN): Welcome to Cairo. Welcome.

AMANPOUR: And it was that optimistic spirit that you felt in the square, flags waving, people singing...

(UNKNOWN): President Hosni Mubarak, change.

AMANPOUR: And they definitely wanted to be heard.

(UNKNOWN): You, Mubarak, we will put you to a crushing defeat. Whatever you do, you will be put to a crushing defeat. We never want you.

AMANPOUR: If that sounds like a primal scream, that's because it is. These are people who haven't been able to speak their mind for 30 years.

And so as night fell on Liberation Square last Monday, protesters camping out in tents were infused with new hope that change was coming, but the days ahead would only bring new challenges and grave dangers.

The next morning, for the first time, we ran into a crowd of pro-Mubarak supporters, afraid of losing everything, the president they've known for 30 years, afraid their country would descend into chaos. I was caught up in their palpable fear, practically pinned to the wall.

(on-screen): Why are you here today?

(UNKNOWN): We are here to support our president, Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, because we want him to be our president maybe forever.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): It's a strange mix of emotions. Here, Mubarak's people embrace the soldiers. And down the road at the entrance to Liberation Square, anti-Mubarak protesters work with the military, as well. Volunteers help with security. They check IDs as people filed into the square for what organizers hoped would grow to a million marchers.

(on-screen): Why are women and men being separated?

(UNKNOWN): Because this is personal check.


AMANPOUR: I get it.

(UNKNOWN): Like in airports.

AMANPOUR: I get it. OK. And what are you checking for?

(UNKNOWN): Bombs.

AMANPOUR: Even though the army is out in force, even though the government tried to stop them by closing down the train station, sealing off some the roads, this has been nonstop all day. It is certainly the biggest protest that this city has seen since they began a week ago.

(voice-over): The mood was jubilant. Egyptians for the first time were able to see life beyond the shadow of President Mubarak.

(on-screen): Do you think he did anything good for Egypt?

(UNKNOWN): Yes, I did. He's done a lot of good for Egypt. He's a tragic figure, in a way. He started out, you know, honorable, good, and well, but then, in the end, the concentration of power, his grip on power, his obsession with it is bringing this country down.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): And that night, the protesters came a step closer to getting what they wanted when President Mubarak announced that he would not run in the next election, a victory, but here it still wasn't enough.

And by morning, it became only too clear that the system would not go down without a fight. It started with a group of pro-Mubarak demonstrators shouting angrily, "He's not leaving," making their way towards the anti-Mubarak protesters assembled in Liberation Square. They streamed in on foot along the Nile and even floated down it. We were standing on a nearby rooftop watching as their numbers exploded.