Student marches pour into Tahrir Square to mark revolt anniversary

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CAIRO: Hundreds gathered on Wednesday in front of the gates of Cairo University to join a march that led them straight to Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the 2011 uprising that unseated Hosni Mubarak.

“The march was organized to stress that the revolution continues,” said Moussa Zarif, a third-year Cairo University student of mass communications.

Zarif said that the main issue was commemoration and not celebration. “We’re carrying mock coffins and we have drums. This is going to be a funeral march.”

Students came trickling in tens around noon, from Cairo University and other universities across Egypt including the German University in Cairo (GUC), Misr International University (MIU), and others.

They were later joined by other marches of hundreds from the direction of Faisal Street in Haram –after merging with the Istiqama march in Giza. Together they marched with steadily increasing numbers in thousands through Dokki and Gezira, all the way to Tahrir.

Some handed leaflets with demands calling for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to hand over power, after legislative authority was returned to the People’s Assembly on Monday.

“None of the demands have been fully met yet, in terms of wages or price hikes or unemployment,” said Mohamed Ali Farag, a 25-year old veterinarian. “And if some demands were met, they constitute only 20 percent of what we were asking for, which was mainly social justice.”

Farag described himself as having been one of those initially against protests, until the Mohamed Mahmoud and Cabinet clashes in November and December. “Especially after the media coverage, the Egyptian television made me switch sides, because I felt I was being tricked and lied to.”

“When someone lies this much, there must be a reason behind it,” he said.

Farag’s grievances were echoed by Ahmed Khater, a Cairo University medical student who chanted “Down with the military rule.”

Khater also described himself as having been slow-footed at joining protests in October, but participated later after seeing the fruit of student movement efforts, first-hand, and putting much faith in them.

He joined the march in a bloodied white coat which he wore when volunteering at a field hospital during the Mohammed Mahmoud clashes.

Khater said that most new student councils and movements were born after the revolution. “From what I am seeing at university, students will have a massive effect in the upcoming period.”

Shooting videos of the march was Ahmed Maher, another Cairo University freshmen student studying law. “After today, [Field Marshal Hussein] Tantawi has to transfer power. These are my expectations, and they are not high. Everyone wants that,” he told Daily News Egypt.

Maher became politically active after the events of the Cabinet when videos spiraled of an Egyptian woman being dragged and stripped on the ground, and pounded on the chest by soldiers in military uniform.

On her part, Iman Ezzeldin, one of many professors joining the march, argued that students were easily triggered to join the protest. An Arts professor at Ain Shams University, she said she teaches students about the reality of the revolution through her drama classes.

“As professors – through our relationship with the student – we have been able to help them change and engage more with the revolution,” she said, adding that she believed that student activism is much stronger now than in the 70s because of the current magnanimity of frustrations.

“[Back then], students were concerned with nationalism vis-à-vis ending colonialism. Now, students are more focused on internal affairs so that in turn all national affairs can be resolved,” she said.

At Tahrir, which was full to the brim with hundreds of thousands, the mood was mixed.

Mohamed Hassan El-Dib, an Azhari Sheikh and the Imam of Awqaf Mosque of Qaitbai, told DNE that he came from a different march out of Azhar, after dawn prayers. He said that another march came in the name of Sheikh Emad Effat, who died in the Cabinet clashes, from Sayeda Aisha Mosque.

“We couldn’t have celebrated because of the victims that fell, and the demands of the revolution are being [achieved very slowly],” El-Dib said.

Moataz Adham, a reporter for Freedom and Justice Newspaper, said that he was reminded of the sight on Jan. 28, where Kasr El-Nil Bridge was loaded with people, bearing in mind the difference in violence and celebration.

“Last time we entered the square through the blood of the martyrs and wounded,” Adham said. “The atmosphere today clearly shows the unity of Egyptians to continue the revolution … Everyone is chanting against SCAF and military rule.”

Adham however said that the major issue was “the fake trial for the icons of the regime,” which he described as corrupt with “even the accused coming in via helicopter.”

Sohair Nadim, a housewife and activist who had joined with her husband and daughter, reiterated the demands of a transfer of power which she thought were simple. “Isn’t it a democracy, and didn’t [SCAF] hold fair elections for parliament? Let [the elected] have power then,” she said.

“What will they [SCAF] do on June 30? How will they face their history then?”



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