News / Middle East

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

Protests Mark Anniversary in Egypti
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
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

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs