Egypt marks one year since anti-Mubarak revolt


Egyptians poured into Tahrir Square on Wednesday to mark one year since the launch of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, with activists vowing to revive their unfinished revolution and the ruling army labelling it a day of celebration.
Tens of thousands of Islamists, liberals, leftists and ordinary citizens packed the square, the epicentre of protests that ousted Mubarak, waving flags and bearing banners reflecting the day’s varying messages. The powerful Muslim Brotherhood, which dominates the newly elected parliament, was there to celebrate one year since Egyptians — inspired by an uprising in Tunisia — took to the streets to topple the regime.
But other groups, including pro-democracy movements behind the revolt, insisted they were at Tahrir to reignite their revolution and demand the ouster of the military council that took over when Mubarak quit. Several marches set off for Tahrir from different parts of Cairo, with the chant of “Down with military rule!” ringing across the capital. Thousands also packed a waterfront square in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, where the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), headed by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, had planned a naval parade.
In the canal city of Suez, around 5,000 protesters gathered in the main square chanting: “From Suez to Tahrir, down with the Field Marshal.” “This is a demonstration, not a celebration,” said Mustafa al-Masry, one of the leaders of a Suez-based revolutionary group. In Cairo, huge flags hovered over the protesters in Tahrir, where a military band attempted to entertain the crowds in the morning. But calls of “Down, down with military rule” drowned out the music, forcing the band to be shuttled away by bus.
“We will keep going to Tahrir to push for the goals of the revolution, no matter what,” said Hala Rashad, a 46-year-old chef. “The military council has done nothing. They are behaving just like the old regime. We have not received our rights and the country is a mess,” she said. At the entrances to Tahrir, “popular committees” searched protesters after the interior ministry said there would be no police presence at the square. Several members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s youth told AFP they were in the square to demonstrate, not celebrate, despite an announcement by the group that it would not be pushing for “a second revolution.”
The big question, reflected in the headline of the state-owned weekly Al-Ahram Hebdo, remains “Who will capture the soul of the revolution?” On Tuesday, Tantawi announced the partial lifting of a hated decades-old emergency law, in an apparent bid to placate protesters, but said the law would still apply to acts of “thuggery.”