Egypt is gearing up for the big day tomorrow (Wednesday 25 January), the anniversary of the start of the revolution.
The Egyptian Parliament opened in Cairo yesterday for the first time—with protests and workers’ marches in the surrounding streets. Many of these are still blocked by barricades put up by the army at the end of last year when it tried to smash mass protests and block routes from Tahrir square.
A year ago elections and such a parliament, with a two thirds majority for the Muslim Brotherhood, would have been unthinkable. But now people know that they are not enough to secure the freedom they have fought so hard for. An estimated 12,000 civilians are held in military prisons, the army still holds ultimate power.
The demands on walls, banners and everyone’s lips are that Scaf (the Supreme Council Armed Forces) has to go. So people are ready to celebrate bringing down the dictator Hosni Mubarak, but they want you to know that the revolution is far from over.
‘We can make a better revolution now after a year,’ Ahmed who is selling mini Egyptian flags in the centre of Tahrir said. ‘We have learned so much that we did not know last January. We know who our friends are. We know our enemies. Now it can start for real.’
All around giant banners depict moments in the revolution, from the first days through to the most recent battles with the security forces. One includes an image of the attack on a young woman, which led to a wave of solidarity when thousands of women marched to show they would not be intimidated off the streets.
Already the numbers in the square make it hard to drive as people spill into the road. Volunteers direct the traffic and others hold up placards and tape them to railings.
A man is hanging a large saddle on a lamppost (see pic). This is what’s left of one of the camels used by Mubarak’s thugs to try and smash the Tahrir revolt on 2 February last year, its now owner proudly tells me.
Many died that day and many more have died since, their faces look down on you in posters and banners in Tahrir and around the city. Some protesters wear facemasks of their pictures.
Their memory is a powerful force in people’s determination to fight on. Last Friday’s demonstrations were called in the name of “Friday of the martyrs’ dreams”.
So this anniversary has its flags and souvenir T-shirts but it is more than a mere celebration. The dreams that inspired the revolution have yet to be realised and so the struggle will continue.
The West and Russia vie for dominance
At the crossroads of imperialism
Struggling inside the Labour Party isn’t the solution for the left