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Egyptians mark 1st anniversary of 'Friday of Rage'

By Aya Batrawy

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Jan. 27 2012 7:15 a.m. MST

An Egyptian protestor, center, reacts while listening to another woman, not pictured, telling a story about her son who is jailed in an Egyptian prison, during a rally to mark the first anniversary of "Friday of Rage,", in Tahrir Square, in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 27, 2012. Some 10,000 Egyptian protesters converged on Cairo's downtown Tahrir Square to mark the first anniversary of "Friday of Rage," a key day in the popular uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Muhammed Muheisen, Associated Press

CAIRO — Large marches of protesters chanting antimilitary slogans streamed from mosques around Cairo to join tens of thousands massed in central Tahrir Square in a new uprising anniversary rally Friday, with many demanding an early transfer of power by the ruling military and the trial of generals for the killing of protesters.

Tensions erupted when one march of hundreds of protesters headed toward the Defense Ministry building and was met by dozens of supporters of the military who chanted "the army and people are one hand." The pro-military group formed a human chain across an intersection, but the protesters pushed through them, shouting "down with military rule."

The protests,which included mass rallies in other Egyptian cities, commemorated the first anniversary of the "Friday of Rage," one of the bloodiest days of the 18-day wave of protests a year ago that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

In last year's "Friday of Rage," Mubarak's security forces fired on protesters marching toward Tahrir from around the capital, killing and wounding hundreds. Protesters battled back for hours until Mubarak's widely hated police forces collapsed and withdrew from the streets.

A year later, protesters' focus is now on demands that the military, which has ruled since Mubarak's Feb. 11 ouster, leave power. But Islamists and liberal, secular-leaning "revolutionary" protesters are divided. The revolutionaries want the generals out immediately, while the Muslim Brotherhood, which is now the most powerful bloc in parliament, is willing to wait for the military's promises to step aside by the end of June.

The leftists and secular groups accuse the military of being as dictatorial as Mubarak and of seeking to preserve their power even after handing over their authority to civilians. Regardless of the timetable, there is widespread resentment that little has been done to dismantle Mubarak's regime and prosecute security officers for the deaths of hundreds of protesters during and after the anti-Mubarak uprising. They call for more protests, while the Brotherhood wants to focus power on parliament. At the same time, there is also significant weariness over the continuing turmoil among Egyptians who are struggling with a worsening economy.

The differing tone was visible in Tahrir. Brotherhood supporters treated the day as a celebration of the victory of the "revolution," while non-Islamists insist there can be no celebrations when so many demands are unmet.

Some in the square shouted against the Brotherhood, chanting at them, "Get off the stage." Brotherhood supporters on a stage they have set up in the square tried to drown them out, blaring the national anthem and religious songs from multiple loudspeakers.

Amid the crowds in Tahrir, a Muslim cleric delivered a boisterous Friday sermon, proclaiming that the protesters, not the military, have the right to determine the country's course.

"Our right is to dictate the decisions of the revolution," said the cleric, Muzhar Shahine, speaking from a stage set up by leftist and secular groups, as the crowd cheered and cried, "God is great."

He gave a litany of the unrealized changes sought by the revolution.

"A year later, has State Security really been dissolved," he said, referring to Mubarak's feared internal security force that was the backbone of his police state. "Has our land been freed?" He said state media, a key mouthpiece for Mubarak and now the military, must be purged, a constitution must be written that is "shared by all political parties and that gives rights for all of Egypt's children," and Christians must be given the same rights as Muslims.

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