Egyptians mark uprising day amid differences

Egyptians mark uprising day amid differences

Tens of thousands of Egyptians poured into Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square on Wednesday to mark the first anniversary of the historic uprising that toppled longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak with pro-democracy activists pledging to complete the ‘unfinished revolution’.

Thousands of people comprising hardline Islamists, liberals and ordinary citizens flocked to the square since early morning carrying flags and banners, reflecting their different goals, hours after the military announced the lifting of the unpopular state of emergency, which was in force sine 1981. Throwing a challenge to Egyptian military ruler Field Marshal Husain Tantawi the pro-democracy activists shouted, “Tantawi, come and kill more revolutionaries, we want your execution”.

The Army after putting on military’s displays withdrew from the square later to allow the youth and people to celebrate the occasion but the Interior Ministry warned that violence will be tolerated.

Groups clash

Differences among those pouring into the square, the epicentre of January 25 revolution, were apparent as some fist fights broke out between groups of youths, but there were no reports of injuries.

Clashes broke out between the liberals and the supporters of Muslim Brotherhood as the liberals demanded the ouster of the military council that took power after Mubarak quit. Some people from both sides intervened to stop the clashes and chanted “peaceful, peaceful, one hand, we will complete the march as free revolutionaries”.

Protesters sang the national anthem to the beats of drums but shouts of “down with the military” drowned the music as groups vied with each other to apparently reflect the question who will capture the soul of the revolution.

At least 846 people were killed and 6,000 injured during the January 25 uprising. The revolt took place in Cairo, Alexandria, and in other prominent Egyptian cities.
Tantawi had announced the end of the state of emergency in a televised speech late on Tuesday afternoon, few hours before the anniversary. Egypt has been in the state of emergency since 1981 when Mubarak came to power. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces issued “commemorative coins” to mark the occasion and announced that the authorities would release 2,000 political prisoners.

The powerful Muslim Brotherhood which dominates the newly elected parliament brought out their supporters in huge numbers to celebrate their victory at the hustings.

But several other groups, including the pro-democracy movement said, they were their to reignite the unfinished revolution and oust the army from power. Authorities partitioned the square into four zones to allow different groups to broadcast their own messages from their podium.

In Alexandria, the Army arrested four men in military uniform intimidating the people.