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News from the Middle East

Protest organisers held their first meetings with Shafiq late Friday, underlining that they met him only to discuss how to arrange Mubarak’s departure. The problem is in the president, he is not getting it that he has become a burden on everybody,” saidAbdel Rahman Youssef.

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Beyond clichéd plots, Muslim writers and actors hope to show their own true stories to Hollywood. After years of watching Muslims portrayed as terrorists in mainstream TV and movies, an advocacy group hopes to change that image.

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President Hosni Mubarak’s family fortune could be as much as $70bn (£43.5bn) according to analysis by Middle East experts, with much of his wealth in British and Swiss banks or tied up in real estate in London, New York, Los Angeles and along expensive tracts of the Red Sea coast.

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An anti-Mubarak protest held outside Lakemba Mosque In Sydney Australia after Friday Prayer.

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Australia has told Egypt’s much despised leader the time for political change has come. “Clearly, a transition is required in Egypt,” Ms Gillard told reporters. “It is up to the people of Egypt to shape their future but the time for change has come.”

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Whilst daily losses from the blockade ran at about $18M, the Mubarak government conceded a loss of $90 million in a foolish move to block internet access.

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Mubarak may be down but he’s not out. And judging by today’s events in Tahrir Square, he and the military-dominated clique around him clearly feel they have done enough, for now, to get the Americans off their backs, flex their still considerable muscle, and reclaim the streets for the regime. All the talk about reform and elections and negotiations can wait, whatever Barack Obama says.

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The uprising in Egypt, although united around the nearly universal desire to rid the country of the military dictator Hosni Mubarak, also presages the inevitable shift within the Arab world away from secular regimes toward an embrace of Islamic rule. Don’t be fooled by the glib sloganeering about democracy.

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As US and EU leaders urge Egypt to reform in face of popular uprising, Israel voices support for Mubarak’s government. Israel has called on the United States and Europe to curb their criticism of president Hosni Mubarak “in a bid to preserve stability in Egypt” and the wider Middle East, an Israeli newspaper reports.

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Bloodshed, tears, but no democracy. Bloody turmoil won’t necessarily presage the dawn of democracy. Could it be the end of the age of dictators in the Arab world?

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