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Feb 1, 2011 | 17:05 GMT

2 mins read

Update on the Size of Protests in Cairo

KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
Feb. 1 has seen the largest congregation of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square since protests began in earnest there Jan. 25. However, media reports that 2 million people are congregating in Cairo's largest public square are exaggerated. Based on the size of the square (approximately 490,000 square feet) and the average limit of one person occupying 2.5 square feet in a densely packed crowd, Tahrir Square can accommodate approximately 200,000 people. However, images from Tahrir Square show empty spaces in the middle of the square and along the edges, meaning it is not yet at capacity. Also, protesters are moving around the square. Since movement requires more space, this shows that the crowd density apparently has not reached one person per 2.5 square feet. Protesters are also present in the seven side streets leading into Tahrir Square and on bridges and roads along the Nile, possibly adding several tens of thousands of protesters more. However, these protesters do not appear to be numerous enough to reach the reported estimates of 2 million. This is significant, as the difference between 200,000 (or even 300,000) protesters and 2 million protesters is 3-4 percent versus 26 percent of Cairo's population (7.75 million). This difference holds political consequences, as it is the difference between a small minority and a sizable part of the population. Protests are happening in every other major city across Egypt, however, the size of the turnouts there are more difficult to gauge. The next-largest protest appears to be in Alexandria, but others are happening in Suez, Mansoura, Tanta, Damanhur, Dumyat, Port Said, Ismailia, Sharqia, El Arish and other towns across Egypt. The pictures below show the progression of protests in Tahrir Square since Jan. 28 and demonstrate fairly clearly that the size of the crowds has grown, regardless of the specific number of protesters present.

Tahrir Square, Jan. 28

Tahrir Square, Jan. 29

Tahrir Square, Jan. 30

Tahrir Square, Jan. 31

Tahrir Square, Feb. 1

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