By Jailan Zayan / AFP
CAIRO: Activists behind the uprising which ousted Hosni Mubarak are up in arms over grandiose plans by the country’s military rulers to celebrate the first anniversary of the revolution, insisting it is still a work in progress.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has fireworks displays and other celebrations lined up for Jan. 25 to mark one year since the launch of the revolt that forced president Mubarak to step down after three decades in power.
But activists say the journey to democratic rule is far from over and have called for nationwide street protests on Wednesday to keep pushing for change.
“Is it logical for someone in a five-kilometer race to stop after three kilometers to celebrate?” the “We are all Khaled Said” group which helped launch the uprising asks on its Facebook page.
“The celebration of the revolution will come after power is fully transferred to a civilian authority elected by the people,” it says.
SCAF has decided that Jan. 25 will be a national holiday, senior council member General Ismail Etman said.
The military has organized parades, air shows and fireworks displays across Egypt, and army helicopters are to drop prize certificates over several provinces across the country.
The celebrations are the military’s way of heading off any major protest, analysts say.
Last month, SCAF detained several activists for handing out flyers calling for protests, while state media repeatedly warn of plans for nationwide unrest on Jan. 25.
“Don’t be distracted by celebrations until the flag of truth is flying,” said the April 6 group, a key movement behind the uprising.
For Egyptians, today’s reality would have been unthinkable just a year ago: their autocratic leader is on trial for murder and corruption and long-banned Islamist groups dominated parliament through elections.
“We have witnessed many achievements beyond our imagination in less than a year, but we are still in a transitional phase,” said the We are all Khaled Said group.
The group takes its name from an Egyptian man killed by police in 2010 who has since become a symbol of the fight against police brutality — one of the main sparks of the uprising.
It said many of the revolution’s goals are yet to be achieved, such as social justice and a restructuring of the interior ministry — accused during and after Mubarak of abuses and violations.
“If we do celebrate, it will be to celebrate the continuation of our revolution, because the revolution continues,” the group said.
Since 2011, protesters have called for a lifting of Egypt’s decades-old emergency law, for police guilty of torture to be brought to justice and for the end of military trials for civilians.
They also want to see an elected civilian authority take charge of the country, amid widespread concerns that the military junta intends to maintain a political role in the country’s future.
The SCAF, headed by Mubarak’s longtime defense minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, has repeatedly vowed to cede power to civilian rule when a president is elected by June.
The armed forces were hailed at the start of the uprising for refusing to side with Mubarak, but have in recent months come under fire for rights abuses and violently stifling dissent.
During a visit to Cairo earlier this month, former US president Jimmy Carter said the military leaders “want to have some special privilege in the government after the president is elected.”
While the uprising managed to remove the Mubarak government, the extended regime remains firmly in place, activists say.
No one said it more clearly than Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei who last week withdrew his candidacy for Egypt’s presidency, saying he could not run because there is still no democracy in the country.
He compared the revolution to a boat and charged that “the captains of the vessel… are still treading old waters, as if the revolution didn’t take place.”
“We all feel that the former regime did not fall,” said ElBaradei a former head of the UN atomic energy agency.
“We still have to end the power of the remaining powerful men of the Mubarak era, and end the military’s influence over political and economic life,” political activist Ahmed Zahran told AFP.
“We must scale up the pressure on SCAF to hand power immediately,” he said.
For Omar Karim, another political activist and musician, the main achievement so far has been “an awakening of the Egyptian public conscience.”
“The good news is that just by getting out of bed, we got rid of Mubarak, but until actual systemic changes take place, there is no revolution. It’s not an achievement, it’s an ongoing public project,” he said.