Thousands of Egyptians poured onto the streets to celebrate the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising that brought an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, but the festivities were marred by violence as security forces crushed counter-demonstrations aimed at the military.
At least 29 protesters were killed, according to health officials.
The contrast between celebration and bloodshed reflect the deep divisions in Egyptian society that have been exposed since the Jan. 25, 2011, revolution began, culminating just weeks later with the overthrow of Mubarak.
On Saturday, relatively small demonstrations organized by Islamists and supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, whose democratically elected government was toppled in July, were quickly suppressed by security forces, The New York Times says:
“[Within] as little as 15 minutes, riot police officers began firing tear-gas cannons and shooting guns into the air, swiftly dispersing the protests. … The police used more force elsewhere. At least 16 people were killed in clashes with officers around the country, including at least 13 in greater Cairo, security officials said, and more than 430 were arrested in Cairo.”
The violence came a day after four bombs went off in the capital, killing at least six people.
For those celebrating, “Military helicopters showered crowds in Tahrir with small flags and gift coupons to buy refrigerators, heaters, blankets and home appliances. State-backed rallies also showcased prancing horses and traditional music for ecstatic crowds,” the AP says.
The Times says:
“Many who remembered marching to Tahrir Square on Jan. 25, 2011, described a feeling of depression on Saturday at the thought of the hallowed ground of their revolt now cheering a new military leader.”