Activists outraged over unemployment and repression are keeping up the momentum of Egypt's largest anti-government protests in years, taking to the streets for the third straight day and issuing online calls for a mass rally in the capital after Friday prayers.
The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood expressed support for the demonstrations, raising the prospect that members of Egypt's largest and best-organized opposition group could join Friday's demonstrations in mass. That would be a sharp boost to a broad-based grassroots movement that has been using mobile phones, social networks and other new technologies to organize suprisingly relentless calls for the ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak.
Scores of protesters gathered in Cairo and other cities around Egypt throughout the day, a worrying sign for a regime so far unable to quash the unrest with the use of force and pledges of zero tolerance. In the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, east of Cairo, hundreds of protesters clashed with police who used tear gas and batons to disperse them.
The days of unrest have left at least six people dead, hundreds hurt and nearly 1,000 detained.
The protesters could be energized by the Thursday night return of Mohammed ElBaradei, a Nobel peace laureate and the country's top pro-democracy advocate. ElBaradei, who has emerged as a prime challenger to Mubarak's regime, told reporters at the Vienna airport that he was seeking regime change and ready to lead the opposition.