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Tahrir Square Packed as Egyptians Mark Uprising

A man carries an Egyptian flag near Cairo's Tahrir Square where demonstrators are gathering to mark the first anniversary of Egypt's uprising, January 25, 2012.
A man carries an Egyptian flag near Cairo's Tahrir Square where demonstrators are gathering to mark the first anniversary of Egypt's uprising, January 25, 2012.
Elizabeth Arrott

Tens of thousands of Egyptians poured into Tahrir Square Wednesday to celebrate - and carry forward - their revolution of one year ago.

For many, being on Tahrir Square once again has brought the memories of last year's revolution flooding back.

Doctor and former protester Rabie el Khouly brought his wife and children.

"My family as a whole, my son Mohamed, the youngest one, was sleeping here in Tahrir, until last February 11, Mohamed was sleeping here in the square and chanting for the fall of Hosni Mubarak," said el Khouly.

But for some, like union worker Magdi Etman, there is more to be done.

"Our revolution is incomplete and has not yet reaped its fruits, and all sincere people in the country should protect the revolution's path so it carries on the right track so we can truly liberate our country," said Etman.

Alongside the celebrations are calls for the ruling military council to step down. The council is trying to placate its opponents, releasing prisoners, honoring victims of the uprising, and partially lifting the much-hated emergency laws.

For presidential hopeful and former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, the partial repeal falls short.

"Nothing is enough. It's a step, but nothing is enough until the total abolition of the law, the emergency law," said Moussa.

All the same, Moussa - mobbed by fans as he strode through the square - is optimistic.  

"We are moving in the right direction. I am very happy about that. I am here to salute the revolution and to consolidate with all Egyptians standing here on this occasion, very serious, important and patriotic occasion," said Moussa.

Not only were the crowds celebrating the changes in Egypt, they also cheered on fellow revolutionaries in Syria and Yemen.

At least for the day, some of Egypt's more pressing problems seemed to recede.  

Union worker Etman concedes the unrest has caused a drop in tourism and investment, but argues the core of the economy remains strong.

"We have the Suez Canal, we have our factories, our manpower - those respectful people [pointing to the crowds] who care about the country," said Etman.

The people he refers to have carried Egypt this far, Etman says, and he hopes they will not stop now.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

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