Tens Of Thousands Gather In Cairo On Anniversary Of Anti-Mubarak Revolt
January 25, 2012
Tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered in central Cairo to mark the first anniversary of the mass revolt that forced Hosni Mubarak to resign as president.
Exactly one year ago, inspired by an uprising in Tunisia, Egyptians took to the streets to call for democratic change and to demand the fall of the regime.
The demonstrators on January 25 massed in Cairo's Tahrir Square, which was the focal point of the protests that eventually led to Mubarak's ouster on February 11.
Supporters of Islamist parties and pro-reform demonstrators rallied on different sides of the square.
Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups -- banned under Mubarak -- said they had gathered to celebrate the anniversary of the toppling of Mubarak's regime. On the other side of Tahrir, pro-reform demonstrators were demanding a swift end to army rule and the prosecution of officials responsible for the killing of more than 800 demonstrators during last year's protests.
On January 24, Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, announced that a decades-long emergency law will be partially lifted.
"Now that the people have voiced their word and have chosen members of parliament , I have taken the decision to end the state of emergency throughout the republic except when facing crimes committed by thugs," he said.
"This decision will take effect as of January 25, 2012."
Tantawi's definition of "thuggery" was not immediately known, but the regime has previously used the expression "thugs" to justify crackdowns on protesters demanding a return to civilian rule.
Human Rights Watch on January 25 condemned the announcement, calling it "an invitation to continued abuse" and the stifling of freedoms.
The anniversary of the anti-Mubarak revolt comes just two days after the newly elected parliament met for the first time on January 23.
The Freedom and Justice Party of the Muslim Brotherhood -- which was banned under Mubarak -- holds the largest number of seats following Egypt's first free elections in decades.
In an acknowledgment of the events of one year ago, the ruling military council has declared January 25 to be "Revolution Day." The date was once the official "Day of the Police."
The military has planned its own public events, with a naval parade in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, air shows in Cairo, and fireworks displays around the country.
Security forces have indicated that they are on alert for "any attempts to sabotage" the celebrations, but said police have been ordered to keep a low profile.
Amnesty International has called on security forces to protect demonstrators and uphold the right to peaceful assembly.
In recent months, Tahrir Square has been the scene of deadly clashes between security forces and antimilitary protesters.
Compiled from agency reports
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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