Syrian protesters took credit Thursday for forcing President Bashar Assad to lift the country's 50-year state of emergency and brushed off his attempts to placate the monthlong uprising against his authoritarian regime.
"The state of emergency was brought down, not lifted," Syrian activist Suhair Atassi wrote on her Twitter page.
Organizers hope today will prove a show of strength for a movement that has yet to build the critical mass reached in Egypt and Tunisia. The government, meanwhile, deployed police officers, soldiers and military vehicles in the capital, Damascus, and Homs, another large city.
The aim of both sides is the same: to prove they have the upper hand in the biggest challenge yet to the 40-year rule of the Assad family. While organizers were reluctant to call today a decisive moment, they acknowledged that it would signal their degree of support in a country that remained divided, with the government still claiming bastions of support among minorities, loyalists of the Baath Party and wealthier segments of the population.
The secretary-general of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council traveled to the Yemeni capital, Sana, on Thursday to offer embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh a deal to solve Yemen's political crisis. A Yemeni government statement promised an official response within 24 hours.
The New York Times said it was told by a Yemeni official that the arrangement calls for Saleh to hand over power immediately and step down in 30 days, and it sets up presidential elections 60 days later. It also calls for an immediate end to protests.
An Egyptian court on Thursday ordered the name of ousted President Hosni Mubarak and his wife, Suzanne, removed from all public facilities and institutions, the latest step in dismantling the legacy of the former leader's 29 years in power.
Hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of schools, streets, squares, libraries, and a major subway station in central Cairo, will be cleansed of the names of the former leader or his wife.
Information from the Associated Press and New York Times was used in this report.