Hollow anniversary of Egypt protests

At a huge rally in Tahrir Square on January 25, 2012, Egyptian protesters carried an obelisk with the names of those killed during 2011 uprising. Photo / AFP
At a huge rally in Tahrir Square on January 25, 2012, Egyptian protesters carried an obelisk with the names of those killed during 2011 uprising. Photo / AFP

Of all the freedoms Egyptians thought they had won with the Tahrir Square Revolution, the one they thought irreversible was the right to demonstrate.

Hundreds of young protesters were killed during the uprising against Hosni Mubarak that began exactly five years ago today. The "Angry Youth" stirred the hearts of the world as they marched, prayed and sang their way to overthrowing 30 years of President Hosni Mubarak's dictatorship.

The family of Mahmoud Mohammed Hussein might beg to differ. Mahmoud was just 18 when he was arrested on the revolution's anniversary two years ago, after attending a commemorative event in a T-shirt with the seemingly uncontroversial logo "A Homeland without Torture".

In those two years, he has been moved from jail to jail without ever being charged or being brought before a court.

"Mahmoud is growing up in prison," his brother, Tareq, told the Daily Telegraph.

January 25, 2011, was the day that two young activists raised a banner of protest. Until then, that date had been marked in Egypt's official calendar as Police Day, an occasion to express patriotic gratitude to the law enforcers.

But Wael Ghoneim and Abdel Rahman Mansour set up for January 25 a Facebook page in memory of Khaled Said, a young man beaten to death in police custody, which they called "The Revolution of the Egyptian People".

After the January 25 protests were broken up, a major rally was called for after Friday prayers later in the week. January 28 was designated "The Day of Rage", and it saw running battles between police and demonstrators. Eighteen days later, Mubarak was forced to step down. The uprising had cost the lives of 846 people.

Five years later, Egypt still claims to be a democracy, but after the 2013 coup against the elected Muslim Brotherhood Government, a new military man is ruling with a firmer rod of iron than ever Mubarak did. General Abdel-fattah al-Sisi has rounded up of tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members and liberal activists.

"Egypt is mired in a human rights crisis of huge proportions," Amnesty International said in a statement to mark the anniversary.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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