CAIRO — A coalition of opposition groups called for a million people to take to Cairo’s streets Tuesday to ratchet up pressure for President Hosni Mubarak to leave.
American and other world leaders were also ramping up pressure for an orderly transition to a democratic system.
The coalition of groups including the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood said it wants the march from Tahrir, or Liberation Square, to force Mubarak to step down by Friday.
The groups also called for a general strike Monday, although much of Cairo remained shut down, with government officers and private businesses closed.
“We don’t want life to go back to normal but until Mubarak leaves. We want people to abandon their jobs until he leaves,” Israa Abdel-Fattah, one of the protest organizers and one of the founders of April 6 group, a grass-roots movement of young people that has been pushing for democratic reform since 2008.
Banks, schools and the stock market were shut for the second working day. Long lines formed outside bakeries as people tried to replenish their stores of bread, the main source of sustenance for most Egyptians.
Barbed wire sealed off the main road to Tahrir Square, a central downtown plaza that demonstrators have occupied since Friday, turning it into the national focal point of calls for the ouster of Mubarak, whom they blame for widespread poverty, inflation and official indifference and brutality during his 30 years in power.
Thousands of people had gathered into the square by early morning. Many slept sprawled on the grass or in colorful tents. Others were filtering into the square in the early morning.
Police and garbage collectors appeared on the streets of Cairo and subway stations reopened after soldiers and neighborhood watch groups armed with clubs and machetes kept the peace in many districts overnight.
One group fended off a band of robbers who tried to break in and steal antiquities from the warehouse of the famed Karnak Temple on the east bank of the Nile in the ancient southern city of Luxor.
The locals clashed with the attackers who arrived at the temple carrying guns and knives in two cars around 3 a.m, and arrested five of them, said neighborhood protection committee member Ezz el-Shafei.
The locals handed the five men to the army, which has posted a handful of soldiers at the vast temple’s entrance.