Egyptian activists carry the coffin of Gaber Salah, an activist who died overnight after he was critically injured in clashes with police last week, during his funeral in Tahrir Square on Nov. 26.
Hussein Tallal / AP
Egyptians carry the body of Gaber Salah during his funeral procession in Cairo on Nov. 26.
Thousands of Egyptians on Monday gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square to attend the funeral of youth activist Gaber Salah, who was severely injured during clashes with security forces last Monday and died Sunday night. Activists have been gathering in the square to protest the seizure of new powers by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. The demonstrations have been reminiscent of an uprising last year that led to the rise of Morsi's Islamist movement.
Exactly one year since the start of the Arab Spring uprisings, violent clashes erupted again Saturday around Cairo's Tahrir Square. NBC's Ayman Mohyeldin reports.
By Ayman Mohyeldin , NBC News
CAIRO -- The echo from the microphones in the room where the prime minister had just finished his press conference on Saturday morning was still ringing in everyone's ears.
Could he have been right?
Prime Minister Kamal Ghanzoury looked journalists, and by extension the Egyptian people, square in the eye and told them the military and the police were not involved in the clashes on Friday -- and if they were, they were only acting in self-defense.
He went on to add that the military exercised restraint and did not fire on the crowds.
His depiction was an attempt, protesters felt, to taint them and their sit-in.
Ghanzoury's comments contradicted widespread reports and eyewitness accounts from journalists and activists.
Regardless of the moment that precipitated the initial clash between the military and the protesters, the military's conduct over the past 48 hours has many Egyptians questioning its competence and intentions.
In fact, videos made by eyewitnesses show the military engaged in all kinds of behavior, originally denied by the prime minister, including taunting protesters with rude gestures, lobbing stones at them, chasing them with sticks, beating and dragging them while they are on the ground and in more than one instance, opening fire with pistols.
In the video above, posted on the website of Mosireen, an Egyptian non-profit organization that helps citizen journalists by running a media center in downtown Cairo, alleged members of Egypt's military are seen taunting protesters with rude hand gestures. They can also be seen throwing stones at the protesters in this video.
In another video, aired by a private Egyptian satellite channel, a soldier can be seen aiming a pistol at people who were coming to recover a wounded protester being attacked by a crowd in military riot gear.
In his press conference the prime minister reiterated a point made earlier in a statement by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. All of the families of those killed would be compensated. Those injured would be treated at the state's expense. An independent civilian advisory council created after last month's deadly fighting between security forces and protesters recommended all those arrested during the clashes be released.
But on Saturday, the PM said they were not revolutionaries. In fact, Egypt's general prosecutor ordered 16 people detained for four days pending investigation into their involvement in instigating the clashes and the killings -- and none were members of the military or police. And despite widespread complaints by protesters and human rights organizations, no investigations into alleged military misconduct have been launched by prosecutors.
So why would the military offer to treat those injured and compensate victims if it felt they were behaving illegally? It seems odd for the state to treat so-called martyrs if it viewed them as vandals and agents of foreign hands.
For its part, the military has posted video http://youtu.be/8grDc-iz5wg) on its Facebook page showing what it claims were vandals destroying government buildings. Egypt's historic Geographic Society building was set on fire on Saturday. It was not clear how the fire started in the building, home to some of Egypt's most important historic documents.
After last month's deadly clashes, the Supreme Council accepted the previous prime minister's resignation and promised to empower his replacement with the full authority he needs to run the country. The new prime minister pledged that force would not be used against demonstrators. But some analysts say that the new clashes raise questions about his ability to reign in the security forces and about the degree of cooperation between the military and the civilians supposedly running the country.
In a post on his Twitter page, prominent opposition figure Mohammed El Baradei said that if the PM had all of the executive authority of the president, which includes security in the country, then in what capacity did the military police act against the protesters?
So did Prime Minister Ghanzoury know that within minutes of concluding his press conference, the military would unleash an assault against the protesters? If he did, then he purposely put a civilian facade on a military crackdown, some say. If he didn't know, then, as El Baradei pointed out, how can he restore law and order in the country if he is not in charge of the one institution that has all the guns?
CAIRO, Egypt – This must be the best party in the world. It’s 9 p.m. in Tahrir Square and I'm surrounded by thousands of people who likely are the happiest on earth right now.
Egyptians can at last celebrate – and they are. Tahrir Square is full of families, men lighting firecrackers, women holding signs saying “freedom,” people on motorbikes and others waving the national flag.
Marco Longari / AFP - Getty Images
Egyptian soldiers celebrate with anti-government protesters at Cairo's Tahrir Square after president Hosni Mubarak stepped down on Friday. Click the photo above for a complete slide show.
Egyptians are proud today and want to show their achievement to the world.
I must have received at least 30 hugs and countless handshakes; one man was so happy he kissed me.
For joyful Egyptians, the best photo to get was one of their kids on top of an army tank or posing with soldiers. The soldiers were happy too, hugging babies, smiling, and receiving water from the elated crowd.
Over the last few weeks, I witnessed fierce battles in this same square, with rocks being tossed and Molotov cocktails flying through the air.
But tonight, it's all about celebration, and the victory of people who were stubborn enough to fight for their freedom.
As I left the square, I looked back and saw an endless stream of people arriving to take part in the party, and I heard a cacophony of chanting mixed with car honking.
This is one party I’ll be telling my grandchildren about in years to come.
LIVE VIDEO — Crowds of protesters gather in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of people have jammed Tahrir Square in Cairo awaiting President Hosni Mubarak's expected resignation. The crowds have been emobldened by comments by Gen. Hassan al-Roueini, military commander of the Cairo area, who told them that "all your demands will be met today."
The protesters lifted al-Roueini onto their shoulders and carried him around the square, shouting, "the army, the people one hand."
Click the video at the top to watch the demonstrations live.
An Al Jazeera correspondent reported that "the vice president came out about 10:30 this morning and said the president had signed a decree allowing for constitutional amendments. ... But I don’t think it worked well. I don’t think anyone here has bothered listening to that yet. The call here is for an end to the regime of the past 30 years and to make sure they will not return once it’s over."
There are calls for another million man march on Friday; they do not want those that died in the first week to be forgotten. They already have huge posters of those killed in those clashes — and they are planning some kind of memorial service to mark those who have fallen.
They want to keep Tahrir Square as a reminder of the very serious actions that have happened here, and discourage people from just coming down to sightsee and just walk around for a few hours.
Wael Ghonim arrived home Monday after having been held for about 10 days.
By M. Alex Johnson, NBC News
Wael Ghonim, the Google Middle East/North Africa marketing executve whose detention for a week and a half has emerged as a critical spur to protesters, has just returned to Tahrir Square and is getting a hero's welcome from tens of thousands of Egyptians.
Ghonim tweeted that he was headed to the square, and Twitterbeganbuzzing a few minutes ago that he had arrived and was talking with some of the crowd.
The interview with Mona Shazli, full of calls to patriotism, a rejection of political factionalism, and demands for democracy, struck the perfect political note and put steel back into a movement for democracy that was in danger in recent days of petering out due to government concessions and public protest fatigue. ...
"He inspired people," says Ahmed Naguib, the head of the organizing committee for the democracy protests at Tahrir Square, gesturing to the vast, flag-waving crowd. "He's a young man, he's a professional, and he was taken and abused at a time we were promised our rights would be protected. He's perfect evidence that the regime can't be trusted."
Egyptian blogger Hossam el-Hamalawy, whose Tahrir Square pictures Photoblog has been featuring since last week, says in a telephone interview with msnbc.com's Meredith Birkett that while some protesters are maintaining their vigil in the square full-time, others are making time in Tahrir Square a steady, but not constant, part of their lives, coming and going around other obligations like work and family.
• Security forces broke into the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood's official news Web site ikhwanonline.com, and arrested 12 journalists and technicians inside, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt's largest independent newspaper.
• Media in Montenegro are reporting that President Hosni Mubarak's son and close personal friends are preparing for him to flee to exile there, Al Jazeera reports. Montenegro already hosts deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
• The protests have shuttered businesses, forced factories to halt operations, closed banks and the stock exchange and limited suppliers' ability to restock store shelves — adding to the economic pinch many protesters say is a key catalyst for joining the demonstrations.
• Desperate pleas for food, for help finding lost friends, even remote offers of first aid help from supposed professionals can be found in abundance on Twitter.
But supporters of President Hosni Mubarak have managed to take the high ground on October Bridge. With both sides using metal "shields" to "advance like Roman legions," he says, "it is a running battle."
Protesters worry that pro-Mubarak forces, now in retreat, will bring in reinforcements.
Update 3:30 p.m. ET: NBC News' Brian Williams reports from Cairo that the situation in Tahrir Square is "clearly deteriorating." He says he just heard a volley of weapons fire.
Update 3:23 p.m. ET: NBC News' Yuka Tachibana and Paul Nassar report from Cairo that they can hear gunfire from the back of the building they are in.
NBC News' Richard Engel reports from Cairo that pro-Mubarak supporters have taken positions in all four corners, trapping protesters in the middle:
NBC's Richard Engel reports the latest on the clashes in Egypt from Cairo.
Estimating crowds is a notoriously inexact science, so much so that the National Park Service stopped doing it for protests in Washington many years ago. That leaves it up to news organizations to make their best guesses.
So it's no surprise that estimates of the crowd that gathered today in Cairo's Tahrir Square are very imprecise and wide-ranging:
• Guardian (U.K.): "An estimated one million people."
• Telegraph (U.K.): "Estimated crowd of more than 1 million."
In January 2009, shortly before Barack Obama's inauguration as president, Steve Doig, a journalism professor at Arizona State University specializing in data analysis, wrote this explanation of why crowd-counting is a mug's game.