News / Middle East

Protesters Rally in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Anniversary of Deaths

Protests Mark Anniversary in Egypti
X
November 20, 2013 6:39 AM
Tuesday was the anniversary of violent clashes between security forces and protesters near Cairo's Tahrir Square, and opposition groups plan to mark the day with more protests.
Watch related video from VOA
Reuters
Hundreds of Egyptians gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Tuesday to commemorate the deaths of protesters killed two years ago and call for reforms, with many in the crowd calling for the power of the security forces to be curbed.
 
Supporters of army chief General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who promised stability and free elections when he overthrew elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July, also showed up at Tahrir but were chased away by activists.
 
The army and the police have been lionized in the press and public since the fall of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood backers. Many Egyptians believe Sisi would become president if he runs for office.
 
But the protesters who gathered in Tahrir said the goals of the popular uprising which toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011 had not been met and accused the security forces of acting mostly with impunity in the intervening two years.
 
“Down with the military regime,” the protesters chanted. “We want to protect our country from oppression.”
 
They criticized the bloody crushing of a pro-Morsi protest camp at Rabaa al-Adawiya in Cairo in August.
 
At one point, security forces fired teargas to try to disperse the crowd, but they were unsuccessful and finally melted away, apparently hoping to avoid clashes on a sensitive anniversary.
 
“I am not for the Brotherhood. But I sympathize with them because of what happened at Rabaa. It was a horrible massacre. There was more freedom under Morsi,” said Salma, a high school student who joined the demonstrations.
 
“The Interior Ministry is stronger than it was before,” she said, referring to the ministry which oversees the police.
 
The overthrow of Mubarak raised hopes among Egyptians that they would enjoy more political freedoms after three decades of iron-fisted rule.
 
But Egypt has stumbled through its transition. During his troubled year in office, Morsi alienated many Egyptians who accused him of trying to give himself sweeping powers and mismanaging the economy.
 
At the same time, the army takeover has raised questions about Egypt's commitment to democracy.
 
“We have a president in name but we know Sisi is really in charge. We want freedom and democracy and the military don't know those things,” said university student Marina Samir, 19.
 
Security forces have killed hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members since Morsi was toppled, drawing condemnation from human rights groups. Thousands have been arrested, including top leaders. The group has been outlawed.
 
Hadiga al-Hanawy, among about 1,000 demonstrators moving through central Cairo towards the Tahrir area late on Tuesday,  said: “We do not want Sisi as president. He is a strong defense minister and he should remain in that position. We want a civilian leader.”
 
Back to the old days?
 
Critics of the government say it is returning Egypt to the repression of the Mubarak era, which it denies.
 
The uncertainty has hammered investment and tourism in the country, an important U.S. ally which was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel and has control of the Suez Canal, the quickest sea route between Asia and Europe.
 
Billions of dollars from Gulf Arab allies have kept the economy afloat but critics say the government needs to come up with a long-term plan to improve finances.
 
The protesters on Tuesday were commemorating the events of November 2011, when demonstrations against the military council ruling the country at the time turned into running street battles in which police used live ammunition, killing 42.
 
A banner featured people the protesters felt had “betrayed” the revolution - Mubarak loyalists, the military council which led Egypt for 16 months after his fall and the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Some activists wrote on social media about their desire to overthrow what they call the new “military junta”, a reference to the interim government installed by the army after Morsi's removal.
 
On nearby Mohamed Mahmoud Street, the scene of the 2011 clashes, a wall that street artists used to express revolutionary ideas was covered in coats of paint resembling the pattern of military fatigues.
 
On Facebook, artists explained that the wall “got a new coat of paint last night. Like the military trying to hide the truth, all the graffiti is now hidden under pink camouflage.”
 
In red letters, the words “Kill, undress, and detain” are written in Arabic.
 
On Monday, Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi visited Tahrir to lay the cornerstone of a planned memorial in the square.
 
The government says the monument will honor the “martyrs” not only of the 2011 anti-Mubarak uprising, but also of what it calls the “June 30 revolution,” referring to the date of the mass disturbances that precipitated Morsi's ouster.
 
Activists say it insults the memory of protesters killed.

You May Like

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs