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One Year After Revolution’s Start, Egypt Still in Unrest

January 25, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
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GWEN IFILL: Finally tonight, the Egyptian revolution one year later.

Margaret Warner has the story.

MARGARET WARNER: Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians flocked to Tahrir Square to mark the onset of the 18-day revolution that drove President Hosni Mubarak from office last year. People waved flags and chanted, but, unlike a year ago, there were no army troops or police present.

For many, this was a celebration.

MOHAMED GAMAL EL DIN, Egypt (through translator): I came to celebrate what has been fulfilled from the goals of the revolution. I came to celebrate the downfall of Mubarak and his corrupted people around him. I came to celebrate freedom.

MARGARET WARNER: But others from the secular forces who sparked the revolution protested today against continued rule by the interim military government.

MAHER MOHAMED ABD EL HAKIM, Egypt (through translator): This is not the anniversary of the revolution. It hasn’t ended yet.

MARGARET WARNER: In fact, the political divisions were plainly evident, liberal secular Egyptians massing on one side of the square protesting, and Islamists on the other side celebrating.

For now, it’s the Islamists who’ve won political power. In Egypt’s newly elected lower house of parliament, the long-banned Muslim Brotherhood now holds the largest bloc. Along with other Islamist groups, it controls nearly 70 percent of the 508 seats.

Hangovers from the Mubarak-era past are adding to the tension. A trial is still ongoing for the ailing former president for complicity in the killing of more than 800 protesters last year. Today, some demonstrators said there could be no progress without justice for past wrongs.

OMNIA SHAKER, Egypt: We want the revenge for the people who died a year ago. And we still didn’t get justice or anything. Slow justice is unfair. And the people who died needs the revenge.

MARGARET WARNER: Amr Moussa, the former Arab League head now hoping to replace Mubarak, said the military needs to loosen its grip more quickly. But he also looked to the future.

AMR MOUSSA, Egyptian presidential candidate (through translator): The change is the hope of all citizens. We cannot continue to live and we shouldn’t live under dictatorial regimes or with the rule of oppression and telling the people what to do and how to feel.

MARGARET WARNER: Egyptians are expecting to elect a new president later this year.