Let's bring you up to speed on the events in Egypt today.
Scores of people – 10's of thousands have gathered in Tahrir Square, with more queing through security checks. The Egyptian army is out in larger force and appears more organized – with a double layer razor wire acting as the neutralized battle line. This was the scene of heavy violence and bloodshed. Today so far has been mostly a peaceful day of protests. These individuals are calling on Mr. Hosni Mubarak to leave today – and have titled their gathering as “the Day of Departure”.
The pro Mubarak supporters and henchmen who instigated the terrible violence have not been seen in any heavy numbers, although there are reports of stone-throwing clashes between protesters at various areas.
Around 2000 supporters of Mr. Mubarak have joined together in an area called Mustafa Mahmoud Square. He says: their message: 'Yes to Mubarak, yes to stability. 30 years of peace.'
This is what Mr. Mubarak told ABC News in an interview he gave, playing the fear card that if he goes, the West's interests would be at jeopardy and the Muslim Brotherhood would take over.
In Egypt's second largest city of Alexandria the tension is much greater and seemingly more volatile. More military and the police (both uniformed and plain clothes) are out and more proactive in engaging the protesters.
On the rest of the streets for the average Egyptian, the pinch is being felt of the 10 days of unrest.
The Egyptian Finance Minister has been quoted as saying the country has suffered huge economic losses, some estimating the figure at 310 million dollars a day.
It was interesting that the State TV of Egypt has shown a split screen that showed live shots of the pro-Mubarak rally on one side and the protesters in Tahrir Square on the other.
But the international media has continued to face huge problems gathering and broadcasting the news. There's been a major reduction in journalists on the ground and the censorship of material, even their hotel rooms sacked – all this for the releasing of information on what has occurred.
Here in Israel many our worried and voicing their concern – perhaps in an exaggerated way. Democracy is often spoken of as the reason the international community must support Israel here in the Middle East. But now with the possibility that democracy could come to Egypt – and with it a potential (albeit remote) of a fundamentalist Islamic leadership – Israel seems not so keen on democracy for it's neighbors. Prime Minister Netanyahu has ordered his ministers not to comment on its neighbor to the south.
Analysis runs rampant as to why all this has gone on as it has. It appears that Mr. Mubarak was not held accountable by the West to make desired democratic progress over the years for many reasons – but particularly those of Middle East diplomacy. He did his job in keeping the peace, offering stability, and serving the West's interests. Those responsible for turning a blind eye now may be facing the reality of shortsightedness.
During our month of prayer at LeSEA, lets continue to hold up all the people of Egypt – and particularly the Christians who are so small in number and vulnerable to the majority at this volatile time.
Middle East Correspondent