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Africa

Huge Cairo victory march keeps up pressure on army

media A boy watches pro-democracy supporters march in Tahrir Square, Cairo Reuters

Cairo’s Tahrir Square was again crammed with hundreds of thousands of Egyptians on Friday – this time holding a victory march to celebrate the fall of Hosni Mubarak, and to remind military rulers of the power of the people.

It is one week to the day since the end of Mubarak's 30-year rule. Friday’s huge gathering also served as a memorial to the 365 people who died during the 18-day uprising.

Report from Cairo 18/02/2011 - by Daniel Finnan Listen

A military band in full dress uniform played patriotic music, before the protesters held Islamic Friday prayers en masse.

Emotions were running high in Tahrir Square, with several protesting telling RFI of their determination to protect their newly won democracy.

"I can’t explain. I’m very happy – but at the same time my memories are still with all of those who died on 28 January, because I was there,” said one pro-democracy supporter, Azza Ismail Mohammed.

Another, an 18-year-old student in faculty of engineering, also called Mohammed, has his face painted with the Egyptian flag. He’s from Menoufia, in the Nile Delta region, and says he’s returned to the square to ensure the goals of democracy are achieved.

“We want the army to go faster, not slower. It’s just now protecting the old system. I don't know why. We just want to achieve our goals,” he said.

Meanwhile 28 January, the “Day of Anger”, was a vivid memory for Mohammed Abel Karim, who's arm was in a sling.

“Each time the police were hitting us, we would raise our hands and say, ‘peace, peace’,” he said. “We’re not aggressive, but they still fired tear gas and rubber bullets at us.”

The Coalition of the Revolution Youth, which groups pro-democracy movements that helped launch Egypt’s revolt, called for the gathering to "remember the martyrs of freedom and dignity and justice".

There were cheers as influential Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi addressed the crowd during Friday prayers, calling on Arab leaders to listen to the people.

"The world has changed, the world has progressed, and the Arab world has changed within," said Qaradawi. "Don't obstruct the people. Don't try to lead them on with empty talk. Conduct a real dialogue with them."

Elsewhere in Cairo, several hundred demonstrators gathered on a square in the middle class Muhandiseen district in a show of support for Mubarak, saying he had been wronged by the protesters.
 

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