Egyptians Mark First Anniversary of Uprising

Posted January 25th, 2012 at 4:10 am (UTC-5)
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Thousands of Egyptians have gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square to mark the first anniversary of the uprising that pushed long-time president Hosni Mubarak from power.

The crowd Wednesday included both those celebrating the change in Egypt and others who say the revolution sparked a year ago is not complete. Protesters are calling for the ruling military council to step down in favor of a civilian government.

Tahrir Square was a focal point for tens of thousands of protesters inspired by demonstrations in Tunisia to call for political and economic reforms in Egypt. The daily protests began January 25 and continued for 18 days through deadly clashes with security forces until Mr. Mubarak ceded control to the military council.

The lower house of a newly elected parliament dominated by Islamists held its first meeting Monday, and the military council has promised to hand power to an elected president by July.

Military ruler Mohamed Hussein Tantawi said Tuesday he will partially lift the country's 30-year-long state of emergency beginning Wednesday. Human rights groups and many countries, including the United States, have been pressing Egypt to lift the measure.

Field Marshal Tantawi said during a nationally televised address that he decided to end the state of emergency except in cases of fighting acts of “thuggery.” He did not elaborate.

The emergency law has been in effect since Islamists assassinated President Anwar Sadat in 1981.

The widely-disliked law allows Egyptian authorities to ban public gatherings, detain people indefinitely without charge and put civilians on trial in military courts that rights groups say do not meet international standards of fairness.

Field Marshal Tantawi's military council expanded the scope of the law last year to prohibit labor strikes, demonstrations that disrupt traffic and the spreading of false information deemed harmful to national security.

Mr. Mubarak is on trial for a variety of charges of corruption and involvement in the deaths of hundreds of anti-government protesters during the uprising. He has pleaded not guilty, and could face the death penalty if convicted of murder.

The former leader's two sons are also on trial, along with Egypt's former interior minister and senior police officers.