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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid