The focus of Egypt’s popular uprising against its president shifted from violence to a battle of wills on the 11th day of protest, a day the people were calling Departure Day.
As hundreds of thousands of Egyptians once more packed into Cairo’s Tahrir Square to pray for their president’s departure, Hosni Mubarak himself showed no sign of the slightest intention of bowing to their wishes.
Neither side is giving any indication of giving up soon.
Mubarak’s supporters were also on the streets, but unlike the previous two days their capacity for violent confrontation with the opposition camp had been curtailed by the Egyptian army, who successfully managed to corral them away from the main square for the first time..
There were skirmishes, there was some stone throwing, but nothing of the bloodshed that came with Wednesday and Thursday’s running battles.
The army had been instructed to protect Egyptian lives.
The rally in Tahrir Square was mirrored in other cities all around the country, with a similar turnout in Egypt’s second city Alexandria.
And the calls from the streets were echoed in statements from world leaders, from the European Union to the United States.
But among the good-natured protest in Tahrir Square simmered a profound discontent with Mubarak’s 30 year authoritarian rule.
His effigy was strung-up, and to add insult, beaten with a shoe.
Demonstrator Ismail Hussein said: ‘This country has scientists, it has athletes, it has thinkers and much more. This country is unable to find a good leader because for years he has done nothing but keep them down. Enough. Enough. Enough.’
Another protester Marwa Thabet had another message for Mubarak. ‘Leave Egypt. We no longer want you. You’re the Pharoah, the Nero. Every dictator there has ever been are (sic) way better than you. (You) are still holding onto your throne, and not we are not accepting you. Just leave.’
Mubarak has already said that he would leave if he could, but added that he fears chaos if he steps down now.
But there is already chaos in Egypt. The economy is being hit hard, with its image as a holiday haven badly tarnished, and its reputation with investors severely dented.