Marking the first anniversary of the 2011 uprising that deposed former President Hosni Mubarak, thousands of Egyptians today crowded Tahrir Square. The ideological divide in the country was evident in the crowd as demonstrators appeared physically divided by whether or not they supported the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, freshly victorious in the recent parliamentary elections.
Outside of Cairo, dozens of separate demonstrations throughout the country were held, with particularly large turnouts in Alexandria and Suez. In Cairo, “security measures were ramped up at government buildings as Egyptian authorities braced themselves” for a major demonstration of popular unrest. Protesters planned to stay in the Tahrir Square overnight, voicing their opposition to the transitional military government with chants such as “Down with military rule!” and “Revolution until victory, revolution in all of Egypt’s streets!”
Many activists claimed that the aim of the demonstrations today was not to celebrate but rather to reiterate the original message of the revolution. Ahmed Maher, founder of the April 6 Movement, insisted yesterday that the military should cede power to a civilian-led government and claimed that today’s demonstrations would “continue and will turn into a sit-in to demand the handover of power.”
A celebratory mood was evident among supporters of the Freedom and Justice Party, however, who were pleased by “their dramatic change in fortunes after emerging [as the] victors” in the recent elections.