As the clock struck midnight, bidding farewell to 24 January and heralding in 25 January, and before the day began, a wave of enthusiastic cheers sounded over Cairo’s Tahrir
As the clock struck midnight, bidding farewell to 24 January and heralding in 25 January, and before the day began, a wave of enthusiastic cheers sounded over Cairo’s Tahrir Square calling for the completion of the revolution that began just a year ago.
Demonstrations resounded around the square calling: “Amidst the cold, amidst the rain, the revolution’s voice will warm the ice!”; “Down, down with military rule!”; “The military rule is shame and betrayal!”; and “We’re not tired, we’re not tired; freedom does not come easily!”. A group of demonstrators volunteered to direct the traffic which continued to move round the square and in nearby streets.
At dawn on Wednesday worshippers performed the Muslim dawn prayer at the Omar Makram mosque, following which anti-SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) cries began to resound. In one Downtown street, in front of the Jewish synagogue, members of a march which had started at al-Azhar were heard protesting about the export of gas to Israel.
Egyptians marked one year on the 25 January Revolution with a ‘million-person’ demonstration in Tahrir Square.
Several demonstrations which, even if smaller than the million figure, included tens of thousands of demonstrators each, began in all four corners of Cairo and converged on Tahrir. They came from a number of Cairo’s main squares and several university campuses; among them Shubra, Giza, Maadi, Imbaba, Abassiya, and Ain-Shams and al-Azhar universities. The Coptic youth movement, the Maspero Youth Union (MYU), was the main organiser of the Shubra demonstration in alliance with other liberal youth movements.
The demonstrators demanded that the military should step aside and hand over the rule of Egypt to civilians. The square resounded with slogans that vowed that the martyrs’ blood has not been spilt in vain; the revolution would go on till the culprits who killed the martyrs are brought to justice, and till the goals of the Revolution are achieved. As to what exactly these ‘goals’ are was a matter of contention; the liberals still called for a civil State where equality, social justice, and freedom reign, while the Islamists already feel they are closing in on their goals.
Egyptian flags filled the air, but not a few Islamists raised flags of Saudi Arabia. Many of the young people wore masks painted with the faces of some of the well-known martyrs. The MYU erected a wooden obelisk on which the names of the martyrs were inscribed. Others carried symbolic coffins to commemorate the martyrs, while others still hanged effigies of Mubarak and his Interior Minister Habib al-Adli.
Eight separate platforms were erected in the square, upon which speakers could voice their opinions, and through the microphones of which patriotic and revolutionary songs and music were blared. The Muslim Brotherhood’s platform was the only one on which celebrations were in full swing; the others were used to voice the demands of the revolutionaries.
By nightfall the MB started packing to leave, but the other demonstrators stayed on, vowing to remain there till Friday.
Pictures of Tahrir Square and video footage, is found on http://www.wataninet.com/watani_Article_Details.aspx?A=24628
All over Egypt
Parallel to the Tahrir demonstrations, other governorates marked the first anniversary of the 25 January revolution in their own way.
In Alexandria, the revolutionary movements who had spent the day widely demonstrating in different parts of the city, decided to launch an open sit-in at the Victor Emanuel Square close to the Alexandria Security headquarters. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina closed its doors Wednesday and Thursday to mark the 25 January revolution.
In Suez, demonstrators roamed the streets shouting anti-SCAF slogans, and demanding a swift handover of power to civilians. They demanded that justice should be served, and the culprits who killed the revolutionary youth last year should stand fair trials. The demonstrators eventually gathered in al-Arbaeen Square. Security and Armed Forces, as well as civil defence squads secured Suez public and private facilities, including banks, ports and police stations.
The scene in the Upper Egyptian towns of Minya, Qena, and Beni-Sweif was not much different.
Political movements in Minya organised a massive march in one of Minya’s main streets. The coalition of the unemployed also joined the ranks of the protestors holding banners that demanded solutions for their unemployment problem.
Out of respect to the souls of the victims who fell in Tahrir, Maspero and Mohamed Mahmoud Street in 2011, Minya governor, General Serageddin al-Rouby, had earlier announced that celebrations would be strictly limited to a commemoration of the victims, in addition to a poetry recital by the revolutionary youth. Other episodes planned, which included singing and a theatrical performance, were cancelled.
In Qena, demonstrators set off from the Saaa Square calling anti-SCAF slogans. All national and political movements shared in the demonstrations, united under one name ‘the revolutionary youth’.
Not much in Assiut
More than 2000 set out in Beni-Sweif, following the Muslim noon prayers to protest against the military rule. They demanded that presidential elections should be conducted before a new constitution is drafted. According to activist Mina Fathy, some children threw stones on the demonstrators during their march. Later, not far from the Beni-Sweif security headquarters, a few skirmishes occurred between the demonstrators and intruders. Security men were able to contain the situation and the demonstration went on till 7:00pm. Yet protestors roamed the streets calling for an extended sit-in.
Even though in Assiut, Upper Egypt, everything was set for peaceful demonstrations to start Wednesday noontime from three main meeting points, it was later decided by all parties and political streams to postpone the scheduled time till 4:00pm, in order to ensure wider youth participation. But until 6.00pm, no demonstrators were seen in Assiut’s streets. Later, separate groups of youth, five to ten young men each, gathered in the main square in town carrying small banners of “the revolution is ongoing”.
As Watani International went to press, Friday was expected to bring on more demonstrations all over Egypt. Readers may visit our website www.wataninet.com for full, updated coverage.
Reporting by Basma William from Assiut, Teresa Hanna from Minya, Samira Mazahy from Alexandria, Ra’fat Edward from Suez, Girgis Wahib from Beni-Sweif, and Mina Mehanni from Qena
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