Egyptians mark year of uprising as rifts deepen

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Tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered to mark the first anniversary of the country’s 2011 uprising, with liberals and Islamists on different sides of Cairo’s Tahrir Square in a reflection of the political divide.

Groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and their liberal and secular rivals differ over the goals of the revolution and the strategy to achieve them, in particular the relationship with the country’s interim military leaders.

Military generals led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi took over from president Hosni Mubarak when he stepped down on February 11, 2011. Mubarak is now on trial on charges of complicity in the killing of hundreds of protesters.

Volunteers from the Brotherhood, a fundamentalist group that won just under half of parliament’s seats in recent elections, were checking identities and conducting searches of the thousands flocking to join the protests.

Other Brotherhood followers formed a human chain around a large podium set up overnight by the group. Brotherhood loyalists were chanting religious songs.

In contrast, liberals on the other side of the square were chanting, “Down, down with military rule,” and demanding that Field Marshal Tantawi, Mubarak’s defence minister for nearly 20 years, be executed.

“Tantawi, come and kill more revolutionaries, we want your execution,” they chanted, alluding to the more than 80 protesters killed by army troops since October. Thousands of civilians, many of them protesters, have been hauled before military tribunals for trial since Mubarak’s removal.

“We are not here to celebrate. We are here to bring down military rule. They have failed the revolution.”