SANAA, Yemen, April 15 (UPI) -- Thousands of Yemenis spent Friday as they have for weeks in large anti- and pro-government protests after prayers.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh addressed his supporters in Sanaa, The New York Times reported. Saleh, not perceived as a devout Muslim, attacked protesters outside Sana University for "the mixing on University Avenue, which is not approved by Islam."
Saleh, who has said he will not leave office until his current term ends in 2013, pointed to the thousands who came to hear him as proof of his support.
"The masses of these millions come to these squares to say yes to the constitutional legitimacy, yes to freedom and democracy, yes to Ali Abdullah Saleh, president of this nation," he said.
Yemeni officials told the Times Saleh, in spite of his appearance of confidence, is under increasing pressure from outside Yemen to step down, ceding much of his power immediately and his office in a few months.
While the capital was peaceful this week, protesters in other cities said they were attacked by security officers dressed in civilian clothes and armed with rocks or traditional daggers known as jamibiyas.
"I swear, we knew that they were going to attack us today," Mahmud al-Shaobi, 33, a protester in Taiz, told the Times. "But we, the sons of Taiz came to protest anyway. And we will keep doing it until Ali Abdullah Saleh leaves."