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Tahrir sends message to Egypt's ruling military council and Islamist parliamentary majority

Demonstrators condemn military rule and accuse state media and the Muslim Brotherhood of sweeping military violations under the rug

Salma Shukrallah , Saturday 28 Jan 2012
Friday of Dignity
Demonstrators march to Tahrir on "Friday of Dignity" (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

The thousands of Egyptians marching to Tahrir on "Friday of Dignity" had one clear demand: an immediate handover of power from the ruling military junta to a civilian, transitional government. The demonstrations that flooded to the iconic square from several parts of Cairo also made a stubborn statement that the revolution still continues.

"This is a revolution, not a celebration" they chanted on the year anniversary of Egypt's  revolution. "Do not be scared, say it out loud: the [military] council has to go," was another slogan dominating the square and the several rallies that toured Cairo on Friday.

The martyrs were also much remembered, as made obvious by the thousands wearing masks of the faces of those killed since last year’s 25 January. Protesters - still angry that no one has yet been held accountable for the hundreds killed during Egypt’s revolution - also chanted, demanding retribution.

Red stickers reading "Kazeboon," meaning "liars," in Arabic were stuck on many of the demonstrators' jackets, t-shirts and bags, together with yellow stickers that read "No to the military trials of civilians."

Kazeboon and No to Military Trials are two highly successful campaigns targeting Egypt’s current military rulers, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). Kazeboon condemns the ruling council as “liars,” and screens videos showing military and police beating and shooting at demonstrators, while the military claimed innocence. The other campaign, No to Military Trials, condemns the processing of civilians through military courts for alleged infractions and pushes for the civilian's cases to be transferred from the military trials to civilian courts.

While most of the chants targeted the ruling SCAF, demanding an end to their military rule, the Muslim Brotherhood, whose party now has the majority of seats in Egypt’s new parliament, also saw a share of criticism.

Something never before witnessed in Tahrir occurred on Friday: tens of thousands chanted against the Muslim Brotherhood.

As they marched into Tahrir from the Qasr El Nil Bridge, near where the MB stage was located, they chanted “Sell the revolution Badee,” with contempt. Mohamed Badee is the MB’s General Guide.

The speaker on the Muslim Brotherhood stage reacted by calling those chanting against the MB felool, a term now used to refer to ex-Mubarak regime loyalists.

Demonstrators, in kind, replied by holding up and pointing the Kazeboon stickers towards the stage, implying that the MB are also liars.

Mohamed Mousa, one of those chanting against the MB, told Ahram Online "we are chanting against the Muslim Brotherhood because they are here to 'celebrate' the anniversary, but there is no reason to celebrate. The officers who have killed the demonstrators are free and Mubarak’s trial is a joke."

Mousa also added that while the demonstrators were chanting against military rule, the MB stage started playing the Quran in attempts to stop the chants. However, Mousa explains, the MB’s attempts to tone down the chants against the military and their celebrations actually provoked many.

As the demonstrators’ chants echoed louder against the MB, a banner reading “Eid,” meaning "feast," or "celebration," in Arabic, referring to the anniversary of the revolution, was taken down.

Mousa confirms “the MB took down the Eid response to our chants.”

Thousands believed that the Muslim Brotherhood's "celebration" was meant to try to override everyone else's demand for the SCAF to hand over power to a civil body.

“The revolution still continues” shouted many, defiantly.

While tens of thousands gathered in Tahrir Square, others marched to the Maspero television and radio headquarters, chanting that the state media are also liars. Protesters accuse the state media of defending the ruling military council and tainting the revolutionaries’ image. Meanwhile, part of the group headed to the Ministry of Defence headquarters to protest military rule.

Although some protesters demanded presidential elections be held earlier and others demanded a handover of power to the currently elected parliament, while others suggested power be handed over to a Presidential Council, they were all clearly in agreement that military rule must end.

Furthermore, demonstrators took a stand against any entity's attempts to overshadow or ignore their demands, whether it be state media, Egypt’s new parliament or the majority party.

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