Egyptian activists have gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday, as the country continues to mark the first anniversary of the uprising that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak.
A small group of protesters has camped out in the square since Wednesday, when massive crowds of Egyptians filled the streets – some celebrating the anniversary of the start of the protests, others calling for an end to military rule.
Friday’s protest is dubbed by many as the “Second Friday of Anger,” in reference to the climax of last year’s 18-day revolt.
At least 27 pro-democracy groups are expected to take part in the protest. Many protesters, such as Mohamed Gerisha, are demanding the immediate end to military rule and the transfer of power to a civilian government.
“Our demand is to continue to the uprising, it is to move forward the transfer of power to civilians,” he said. “We want to maintain the stability of the country.”
The election of a newly-seated lower house of parliament has failed to satisfy many liberal politicians and activists, who say the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has resorted to the same brutal tactics used by former President Mubarak to quell dissent.
The military council, led by Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, has promised to hand over power to an elected president by the end of June.
The council has made several apparent concessions to reformists in recent days, pardoning about 2,000 prisoners and promising to partially lift the country’s 30-year-long state of emergency. But, the ruling military said authorities will continue to apply the widely-disliked law in fighting acts of “thuggery.”
The New York-based Human Rights Watch says the exception is an “invitation to continued abuse” and an “insult” to Egyptians. It says Egypt’s military rulers frequently have described “peaceful” demonstrators as “thugs” and put them on trial in military courts for the offense.