Massive number of Egyptians take to streets on Jan 25 revolution anniversary

Ahram Online , Wednesday 25 Jan 2012

Protests against the ruling military council filled the streets and squares of Egypt as the revolution continues a year after Mubarak fell - Ahram Online carried the events of the day from start to end

Tahrir Square Wednesday morning (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

21:15 Thousands of protesters marching from the Cairo neighbourhood of Shubra have arrived in Talaat Harb Square, in downtown Cairo. Representatives of liberal movements addressed the crowd as Egyptian singer Azza Balbaa entertained the gathered throng with a number of those patriotic songs that have been ubiquitous since Mubarak's ouster and the country's media decided they liked the revolution after all.

21:08 In Upper Egypt, hundreds are celebrating the first anniversary of the revolution in the main squares of Luxor and Qena.

20:35 In the governorate of Fayoum, hundreds of protesters marched through the streets carrying symbolic coffins to honour the revolution's martyrs. The protesters chanted against the military council.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party held their own march in the city from the Shoban El-Muslimeen Mosque, carrying banners demanding justice for those who killed during the revolution.

20:30 The pro-Baradei Seven Demands for Change movement has decided to join in a Tahrir sit-in.

20:26 It's not just revolutions that see the light of day in Egypt's squares. Tahrir News reports that a protester gave birth today in Tahrir Square. She was rushed to an ambulance where she delivered her baby.

19:30 The Revolutionary Youth Union has announced that they will stage an open-ended sit-in in Tahrir and other squares in Egypt until the ruling military council hands over power to a civil authority. The coalition went on to call on Egyptians to head to Tahrir Square this Friday and take part in the "Pride and Dignity" million-man march.

19:24 In Tahrir, Revolutionary Socialists are handing out flyers demanding an immediate handover of power to a civil government, an end to military trials, a minimum wage of LE1200 and pay ceiling of LE18,000. The group is also calling for the cleansing of the Ministry of Interior and the country's state media, which has been an instrument of power since Gamal Abdel Nasser's time.

19:19 Hundreds  from the different political forces have been demonstrating in the city of Ismailiya under the banner "The revolution still continues." The demonstration headed to the city's Thalatheeny Square where prayers were held for the revolution’s martyrs.   

19:16 Back in Maspero where the main gate has been shut as ever growing numbers of demonstrators arrive on the corniche road outside, chanting "here are the liars" at the state media headquarters. For the last year, the building has been ring-fenced with barbed wire. 

19:10 In Tahrir Square there have been 122 reported cases of injuries so far, according to Adel Adawy, assistant to the minister of health. Most of the injuries are as a result of heavy crowding as hundreds of thousands pack into the square.

19:09 Increasing numbers of demonstrators are gathering outside the state TV and radio building in Maspero chanting "liars, liars."

18:55 According to Egyptian state TV, April 6 Youth Movement and other political forces also intend to stage a sit-in in the port city of Suez's Arbaeen Square.

18:50 The April 6 Youth Movement and the National Front for Justice and Democracy have announced they will stage a sit-in in Tahrir Square. Other movements have yet to declare whether or not they will participate.

18:43 According to our correspondent in Tahrir, numbers appear to be decreasing. The square is dividing into different small protests chanting against the ruling military council. Some are also chanting against the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists, calling for a civil state and against a military or theocratic one.

18:36 Cairo's Abdel Moneim Riyad Square, adjacent to Tahrir, is packed with protesters carrying an immense Egyptian flag and chanting for retribution for the revolution's martyrs.

18:12 According to our correspondent, streets in downtown Cairo are packed with people, many chanting against military rule. People sitting in street cafes are joining in with the charged atmosphere against Egypt's military rulers.  

18:03 In Tahrir it's a giant obelisk, and in the city of Port Said protesters have erected a 15-metre candle in the middle of El-Mansheya Square bearing the names of those killed and injured in the revolution.

18:00 A group of Salafists participating in a march in Alexandria were ejected by other protesters. The march,in  which approximately half a million protesters are taking part, is heading to the city's North Military Zone.

Ahmed Nassar, a member of the Revolutionary Youth Coalition in Alexandria, told Ahram Online that while not all Salafists are against the revolution, a faction of them are. This is despite the fact that the revolution gas given them exposure and seen their leaders released from Mubarak's prisons.

17:58 It wasn't impossible after all. They have it up in the middle of the square's roundabout.

17:54 The Maspero Youth are still having trouble erecting their obelisk, its height and weight making it seemingly impossible for them to create enough leverage with which to swing it up.  

17:22 Interim Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri plans to give a speech to mark today's anniversary of the January 25 uprising.

17:20 The swaying to and fro of the anachronistic obelisk, as it was raised into place, was particularly striking, carrying with it a seemingly loaded symbolism. Will this be the moment that winds up the day?

Dozens of protesters, according to our correspondent, have begun vacating the square, as night begins to fall on the uprising's epicentre.

In Abbasiya Square, the notorious pro-SCAF stomping grounds, a few thousand demonstrators have gathered to celebrate today's anniversary, chanting pro-SCAF and anti-Tahrir Square slogans. "Police, military and the people are one hand," is just one of the square's popular slogans. 

17:02 As marchers continue to stream into Cairo's iconic protest grounds, some have taken liberties with their use of symbolism. In a throwback to times long gone, the Maspero Youth Union have hauled a massive wooden obelisk inscribed with the names of slain protesters into the square via Qasr El-Nil bridge.

Another march led by Coptic Christians has also arrived in the flashpoint square. Originating in Shubra, the march, which kicked off at 2:30pm, was marked by anti-SCAF chants and calls for a swift transfer of power to a civil authority.

Nearby, on the Nile corniche, a march has converged on Egypt's state television and radio offices (Maspero). 

16:49 Protesters in Alexandria, their numbers estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands, are currently marching towards the northern military zone, nearby the district of Sidi Gaber. University students from several of the city's institutions have also joined the protests.

Elsewhere in the Mediterranean port city, protests have erupted in front of the Two Saints Church, site of the New Year's Eve bombing in 2011.  A march originating from the church is currently proceeding to the Semouha district.

16:39 Yet another public figure, moderate Islamist and presidential hopeful Mohamed Selim El-Awa, along with around 20 of his supporters has joined Tahrir Square's protesters.

16:35 The podium associated with families of the slain protesters is currently screening biographical videos on those killed in the uprising. A large banner adorning the stage reads "Thanks to Heba El-Swidy for her help and support." El-Swidy, a daughter of a prominent businessman, has earned notoriety for her assisting injured protesters by paying for their hospital expenses. Representatives voiced the need to honour the rights of fallen protesters in the opening session of the People's Assembly (parliament's lower house).

15:59 Demonstrators in Tahrir Square have fastened together two Egyptian and Syrian flags, both dozens of metres long.  

15:54 The Ghamra and Ain Shams University marches, whose numbers exceed 10,000, have reached the iconic protest grounds in Cairo, chanting "Down with military rule."

Marcher numbers are unprecedented, outnumbering last year's biggest days, according to some observers. Tahrir's entrances are becoming clogged, as numbers climb in the square and densely populated marches continue to arrive at its fringes.

Tens of thousands of protesters marching to Tahrir Square from Mostafa Mahmoud Square are unable to make their way into the occupied grounds. The Dokki march is also finding difficult to access the protests focal point, as they are unable to pass through Galaa Bridge. In response, Dokki protesters have decided to remain in Dokki for the time being until their path is clear.   

15:45 The Ghamra and Ain Shams University marches, whose numbers exceed 10,000, have reached the iconic protest grounds in Cairo, chanting "Down with military rule." 

15:38 According to Ahram Online’s reporter, Islamists have set up camp in front of Omar Makram Mosque, where even the vendors are selling Islamic merchandise and snacks, such as dates and domestically made perfumes. Islamic music is playing in the background as of the encamped members begin to fall asleep.

In front Qasr El-Doubara, an evangelical church near Tahrir, supporters of Salafist presidential hopeful Hazem Abou Ismail are wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the latter's face as they distribute flyers. A field hospital was opened inside the church earlier today.

15:32 Arab League Secretary General, Nabil El-Arabi, has reportedly joined protesters in Tahrir Square, the point of convergence for the many planned marches all across the capital. His predecessor Amr Moussa is also taking part in protests.

15:25 In the canal city of Suez, thousands of protesters set off from Arbaeen Square and are marching around the city, chanting "Down with military rule." Activists are calling this the biggest march in Suez since 28 January 2011, the Friday of Rage. Suez has historically been a hotbed of discontent and a focal point for revolutionaries along with Cairo and Alexandria. 

15:22 A march to honour Mina Daniel, a Coptic activist shot during the 9 October clashes at Maspero, has just arrived in Tahrir Square. Thousands of protesters are participating in the march, including several prominent figures such as Father Filopater Gameel, one of the founders of the Maspero Youth Union; Rami Lakah, the founder of the Islah and Tanmia Party; presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabahi of the Karama Party and Bothaina Kamel. The protesters are expected to make a brief stop at the Qasr El-Nil Bridge to observe one minute of silence to commemorate the revolution’s fallen.

Several other marches, including those that originated in Shubra and Giza, are heading toward Qasr El-Nil Bridge to participate in a minute of silence to honour the casualties of the uprising.

15:15 Around five thousand protesters are marching from Ghamra and Ain Shams University to Tahrir Square, raising images of slain protester Alaa Abdel Hady. Demonstrators paused at Al-Gomhoreya newspaper's offices on Ramsis Street, chanting "Liars, liars."  

15:12 Leftist marchers in Tahrir Square are currently chanting against the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists, repeating slogans such as "We want a secular state, neither a Brotherhood nor a Salafist one," and "I can hear the mother of the fallen calling, saying the Brotherhood has traded my son's blood for power."

14:35 As the Muslim Brotherhood's stage is currently hosting a marriage in the uprising's epicentre, a few thousand march from downtown's High Court toward Tahrir Square, bearing a huge Egyptian flag. The protesters are chanting against the ruling junta and are calling for the revolutionary trials of those responsible for the killing of protesters during the 18-day uprising.

In Ramsis Square, tens of Ultras, donned in V for Vendetta masks, are rallying and waiting for another march from the neighbouring Ghamra neighbourhood. Members of the football firms are lighting flares and parading images of Shehab Ahmed, a colleague killed late last year during clashes with security forces.  Ahmed was a member of Zamalek's Ultra White Knights.

Shifting to the governorate of Daqahliya, thousands of protesters in the capital city of Mansoura collectively performed prayers to commemorate the casualties of the Egypt's uprising. Gathered in Shohada Square, protesters were joined by local MP Mohamed Shabana, who was arrested during last January's momentous wave of protests.   

Today's protests are taking us from one governorate to the other, as the entire country sees protesters taking to the streets. In Alexandria, droves of demonstrators have begun their march from the Two Saints Church in Alexandria's Sidi Bishr neighbourhood. The demonstrators, carrying images of slain protesters and chanting against the ruling junta, are heading to Semouha along Gamal Abdel Nasser Street. Protester Mohamed Hani tells our reporter that he is demanding a swift transfer of power to parliament as the ruling SCAF have mismanaged Egypt's transition period. 

14:15 The Cairo University march has nearly reached the Qasr El-Nil Bridge, which leads to Tahrir Square. The march, now numbering in the tens of thousands, is currently on Galaa Bridge and plans to take a moment once they arrive at Qasr El-Nile Bridge to observe a minute’s silence for the "martyrs."

14:10 Prominent opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei has reportedly left the march he was leading which took off from Istiqama Mosque in Giza and was heading to Tahrir Square. Although ElBaradei did not disclose the reason behind his departure, his supporters say that health issues may have played a part, especially as the march was very crowded and the distance to Tahrir long.

El Baradei, a former director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was one of the staunchest critics of the Mubarak regime. He was also gearing up to make a bid for the presidency, but on 14 January, he surprised supporters and critics alike when he announced his withdrawal from the race.

14:05 Several Azhar scholars gathered before the US Embassy in solidarity with Omar AbdelRahman's supporters. Abdel Rahman, a spiritual leader of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, has been imprisoned in the US since the 1990's for his association to terrorist activities. The family and the supporters of the blind leader have been demonstrating before the US Embassy since the summer of 2011. They demand his release and return to Egypt.

14:02 Our correspondent with the Giza Square march reports that the marchers have arrived in Galaa Square and are currently divided as whether to wait for the Mostafa Mahmoud march or to continue onto Tahrir Square.

13:58 Two protest marches, one coming from Nasr City and another from Heliopolis have merged together in Salah Salem Street, completely cutting off traffic, as the thousands of protesters march on Tahrir Square.

In Mohandiseen, protesters congregated in Mostafa Mahmoud Square have set off down Al-Batal Ahmed Abdel-Aziz Street, the suburbs major thoroughfare, headingtoward Tahrir Square, the focal point of today’s events.

Elsewhere in the governorate of Gharbiya, thousands of protesters are marching through the streets of Mahalla, calling for the swift transfer of power from the ruling junta to a civil government.

13:57 Qasr El-Doubara, an evangelical curch near Tahrir, has opened its doors to Muslim protesters who wish to wash up for prayers and have also announced that its field hospital ready to accept anyone in need of medical attention.

13:54 On the stage in front of Hardee's, members of the April 6 Youth Movement have called for a revolutionary trial for the ousted Mubarak to be held in Tahrir Square, the uprising's epicentre. Protesters on the same stage, whose affiliation is as yet unknown, have announced the organisation of a march that would set off from Tahrir and converge at the medical centre where the ousted strongman is hospitalised. The marchers aim to bring Mubarak back to Tahrir for the aforementioned trial.  Furthermore, another group of protesters – affiliation also unknown, have called for another march to move from Cairo suburb of Maadi to Tora prison, where certain allegedly corrupt figures of the old regime are being held. The objective is also to bring them to trial. 

13:35 Former Muslim Brotherhood figure and presidential hopeful Abdel-Moneim Abul Fotouh has joined protesters in Mostafa Mahmoud Square, while in Tahrir Square, another presidential hopeful and former Arab League chief Amr Moussa has arrived with a 2,000-strong march. 

13:30 Thousands of protesters in Heliopolis, a suburb of Cairo, gathered in Hegaz Square earlier and are now proceeding down Salah Salem Street, the capital's main artery, toward Tahrir Square. Liberal politician and Heliopolis MP Amr Hamzawi is among the protesters, demanding the implementation of the revolution's unmet demands.

In Giza, Ahram Online’s reporter informs us that the Cairo University march has connected with three other marches. The thousands of marchers have swelled and will soon fuse with a fifth group of protesters marching around Mostafa Mahmoud Square in Mohandiseen to amass even more protesters.

Around Mohandiseen's main square, protesters are distributing masks adorned with the photos of slain protesters, one of which bears the image of Khaled Said, the iconic face of the victims of police brutality. A larger than life effigy of a military man, a symbol of the ruling junta, is being born around the square, inviting the rebuke of protesters.

13:10 The march that kicked off from Giza, with what seems to be thousands of protesters, has reached Cairo University, continuing toward Galaa Street. Some demonstrators are thought to be members of the Ultras football firms due to the use of flares by various participants.

12:55 The mother of Mina Daniel, a young protester slain during the bloody military crackdown at Maspero in 9 October, has joined the hundreds of protesters in Shubra Square. The protesters are chanting "Shubra people let us go again and seize our victory," as they set off on a march toward Tahrir Square.

According to one of our reporters in Cairo's Mohandiseen neighbourhood, protesters at Mostafa Mahmoud Square have exceeded a thousand. Veteran socialist activist Kamal Khalil is leading chanters on top of a truck equipped with large amplifiers. One man standing on the truck's bed has donned a highly controversial V for Vendetta mask.

In Giza Square, thousands have packed into the square. The protesters in the square will divide into two groups: one will march from Istiqama Mosque led by ElBaradei to Cairo University to join student demonstrators, while the other group will march directly on Tahrir Square. 

12:35 Egypt's Ministry of Health announces that 47 ambulances and six mobile clinics are stationed around Tahrir Square.

12:30 Hundreds of protesters prayed in unison in uprising's epicentre, as more protesters make their way into the square. A march of hundreds has kicked off from Zamalek's Sawy Culture Wheel, heading to Tahrir.

 In downtown Alexandria, tens of thousands are gathering at Qaed Ibrahim Mosque.  

12:24 Well known writer Ayman El-Sayyad tweets: "I remind all media that they have to be accurate; we are not celebrating the first anniversary of the revolution; we are reviving the revolution in its first anniversary. Listen to the slogans and chants carefully."

12:19 More than a thousand people have gathered in Arbaeen Square in Suez, whilst outside Al-Shohada Mosque another crowd is gathering just kilometres away in order to begin their march to the latter square at 1pm. The march will take the protesters through the city's main thoroughfare, El-Gish Street.

12:15 Hundreds of college students are gathered before Cairo University, chanting "Down with the military junta." Protesters are planning to march from Mostafa Mahmoud Square, a central gathering point for Giza residents, to Tahrir Square. There are no security or military forces in sight. 

12:10 The square's scenes have drawn crowds of onlookers on 6 October Bridge, where tens of cars are parked, as their occupants watch the ongoing protests in Tahrir Square. And where there are crowds, there are street vendors. A handful of peddlers have found their way onto the bridge and are selling flags. Traffic, however, still flows in some lanes.

Back in the square, Ahram Online’s correspondent reports that many shops located in the streets surrounding Tahrir Square are open despite that fact that today is a bank holiday.

12:00 Leading opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei has made an appearance in Giza Square. 

11:55 The Youth of the Egyptian Museum, a coalition formed in the wake of last year's popular uprising, have established themselves in front of the museum to protect the archaeological archive. Plainclothes policemen are also lingering in the same area, according to Ahram Online's correspondent, whilst more police forces are inside the museum.

Another group consisting of tour guides, calling itself the Tourism Support Coalition, has also contributed affiliates for the purpose of protecting the museum.

Elsewhere, around 200 students from the dental faculty, wearing traditional white lab coats are heading towards Cairo University’s main campus to join a mass march that plans to head to Tahrir Square later.

11:50 The main stage in front of Hardee's has collapsed. Several bystanders have been injured, according to our reporter.

11:45 In Giza Square, our man on the ground reports hundreds of protesters gathering in front of Al-Istiqama Mosque, chanting anti-SCAF slogans, "The revolution continues," and the revolutionary tripartite motto, "Bread, freedom and human dignity."

11:30 Two more stages have been erected in Tahrir: one belonging to the Wafd Youth, affiliated to the liberal Wafd Party, and the other belonging to the National Committee for the Revolution Legal Shield, a coalition of rights groups. 

11:15 A large number of protesters, especially those near Omar Makram, are calling for retribution against the "killers of the slain protesters." Many also direct their chants at what they believe to be the farcical trial of Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal.  

Following last night's rain, the air is particularly crisp. In parts of the square, parents have brought their children, showing them the sights and sounds of the uprising's hallowed grounds. Today has brought many faces to the square.

Speaking to Ahram Online an elderly man explains that he has felt a political rebirth since Mubarak stepped down in February and has become far more active in the interim. Another demonstrator, Mahmoud Mohamed, told our reporter, "I was the kind of person who always found myself in the hands of State Security Investigation, but now I am free."

There are no ambulances to be seen, according to Ahram Online's reporter. Nevertheless, a makeshift field hospital has been erected near Hardee's fast-food restaurant, adjacent to Mohammed Mahmoud Street – the site of November's bloody clashes between security forces and army on the hand and protesters on the other.

10:45 Security forces and military personnel are notoriously absent from Tahrir, and as such, the square's entrances are being secured by popular committees, whose constituents consist mainly of Muslim Brotherhood members. Ahram Online spoke to one of the Brotherhood’s members on security duty, Hassan Mostafa, who stated he and his peers came only to secure the square and nothing more.

It wouldn’t be Tahrir without its street peddlers who are out in hordes. Large banners are draped across the central traffic island: some bearing the photos of the "martyrs" and others with anti-military slogans.

Tens of Al-Azhar sheikhs arrived in the iconic square at around 10pm, holding aloft photos of Emad Effat, the cleric killed by the military during December's Cabinet clashes which saw the latter pitted against anti-SCAF protesters. The clerics chanted "We're free revolutionaries and we'll carry on our course."

Labour lawyer and Revolutionary Socialists member Haitham Mohamedein told Ahram Online that he is not demanding the handover of power to the People's Assembly. Rather he is calling for the ruling SCAF to simply be brought down.

10:30 Droves of protesters have been making their way to Tahrir Square since late last night despite an outpouring of rain, according to our correspondent in the square. Numbers are estimated to have reached the tens of thousands. As of now, there are three major podiums situated at Hardee’s fast-food restaurant, Omar Makram Mosque and Qasr El-Nil Bridge; other stages are being erected.

The stage at Omar Makram Mosque has become a platform for around 30 political groups, including the Democratic Front, the April 6 Youth Movement and the Revolutionary Socialists.

It seems the day has begun in high spirits, though it is too early to call whether this is renewed revolutionary fervour or manifestations of a celebratory energry. Large groups of gathered protesters are chanting “Down with the military rule.” Our reporter in the square tells us that many protesters are calling the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to hand over power to the newly elected People’s Assembly.

10:00 It’s been a year since Egyptian protesters took to the streets on 25 January, Egypt’s Police Day, and triggered a storm of heated demonstrations across the country that would lead, 18-days later, to the toppling of president Hosni Mubarak. Egypt’s Day of Rage, inspired in part by the Tunisian uprising, grew out of youth initiatives aimed at targeting police brutality following the brutal murder of a young man named Khaled Said in Alexandria by plainclothes policemen.  That fateful day, however, seemed to have deeper roots; it took the country by surprise and was able to mobilise thousands of Egyptians from all walks of life in a wave of protests that have ebbed and flowed over the past year. As Egyptians again take to the iconic protest grounds of Tahrir Square, we will keep you up to date on today’s momentous anniversary. 

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