Egypt marks fifth anniversary of pro-democracy uprising in muted fashion | Middle East| News and analysis of events in the Arab world | DW | 25.01.2016
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Middle East

Egypt marks fifth anniversary of pro-democracy uprising in muted fashion

Egypt has marked the fifth anniversary of a pro-democracy uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. Amid raised security, there was a ban on any demonstrations not approved by police.

The run-up to the anniversary saw heightened security in the capital, Cairo, as well as a wave of arrests and security checks.

Thousands of police were deployed outside security offices, police stations and other public buildings, including the state television headquarters. Meanwhile, riot police were in place around the city's Tahrir Square - the focal point of the 2011 uprising.

Demonstrations not approved by police were banned, and a group of protesters gathered in the square to praise security services for their actions after the revolt.

In a speech last month, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, a former general, warned against any demonstration to mark January 25 - designated "Revolution Day" a year after the demonstrations began. Last year, at least 15 people died in unrest on the anniversary.

The raised security comes amid a growing escalation of an Islamist insurgency in northern Sinai by fighters aligned with the "Islamic State" (IS) militant group.

Divisive Islamist rule

The first democratic elections after the revolt saw the emergence of Egypt's oldest Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, which was able to dominate parliament.

The Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi became the country's first directly-elected president, but his rule proved divisive. Morsi was overthrown in July 2013 in a coup spearheaded by army chief Sissi, who was later installed as president.

Sissi has since launched a crackdown that saw thousands of Islamists jailed, as well as scores of secular protesters. The Brotherhood was again banned, as under Mubarak, and Sissi's government is accused of restricting the media and jailing journalists for reporting.

'Shattered hopes'

A new parliament, inaugurated earlier this month, is dominated by pro-Sissi lawmakers and is thought to be unlikely to pose any challenge to his rule.

"The hopes that the '25 January Revolution' would herald a new era of reforms and respect for human rights have been truly shattered. Egyptians have been made to watch as their country reverts back to a police state," said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International's Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director.

Early on Monday, two people were reported to have died in a police swoop on suspected militants in 6th of October City, a suburb of Cairo. Egypt's official MENA news agency said firearms and explosives were found at the raided property.

rc/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)