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Marches from all over Cairo are heading toward Tahrir Square on a day that marks the one-year anniversary of the 25 January revolution.
The marches, many of which have already started, are beginning from the same locations where thousands convened on this day last year to bring down the regime. At the heart of most of these marches is an activist belief that the revolution is ongoing and that the demand to bring down the regime still holds, although this year, it refers to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has been in charge of the country's affairs since Hosni Mubarak stepped down.
Just like the same day last year, participants are taking off from different quarters, neighborhoods and squares to converge on Tahrir, which has become the space and the symbol of the Egyptian revolution.
At Al-Istiqama Mosque in Giza, south of Cairo, one of the main gathering points where protesters convened last year, about 2,000 protesters reconvened Wednesday morning. The chants of "The people want to bring down the regime," echoed those that reverberated across the country last year. Protesters also chanted, "Free revolutionaries, we will continue the path."
Politician and former presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradei, who came to Al-Istiqama Mosque on 28 January last year, was present this year among protesters in what registered as deja vu for many.
As numbers increased, protesters chanted, "we are not here to celebrate. We are here to get the martyrs' right," in what marks a consciousness across the marches today that they are mostly protests against the military rule rather than celebrations.
The march moved on to Cairo University, with protesters carrying fake coffins with the names of martyrs inscribed on them.
"Today proves that the revolution is still in the street. The numbers today and the support from people in homes defy what was being said about people being fed up with the revolution," said Laila Soueif, a university professor and veteran activist, in reference to beliefs that the revolution is waning because its supporters are exhausted.
At Al-Azhar Mosque, hundreds marched after noon prayers, also chanting, "Down with military rule." However, they were intercepted by another pro-SCAF march of demonstrators chanting, "The people and the army are one hand."
The mosque became the site of increasing dissent against the SCAF following the death of Emad Effat, secretary of Al-Azhar's fatwa department, who was killed in December clashes that broke out after the military violently dispersed a sit-in. The clashes left 15 dead, and thousands marched at Effat's funeral to demand an end to military rule.
In Imbaba, also a site of fierce battles last year, about 2,000 people including the families of martyrs and members of popular committees marched toward Tahrir, also demanding that military rulers relinquish power.
"We demand that SCAF hands over power to Parliament. We are not worried that Parliament has an Islamist majority. We can negotiate with them a salvation government. But the priority now is for SCAF to go," said Mohamed Magdy, an activist from Imbaba.
Although the district is a hub for Islamists, they were not seen at the protest.
Islamists, particularly from the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafi-oriented Nour Party coalitions, have reaped about two-thirds of parliamentary seats.
In Shubra, about 3,000 people began marching toward Tahrir Square chanting against SCAF and its violence against protesters throughout last year. Shubra was the site of a tumultuous protest last October in which mostly Coptic demonstrators marched to the Maspero state TV building to demand their rights. They were met with staunch resistance from military forces, which led to killing of 27 protesters.
The Coptic Group and the Maspero Youth Union led the march Wednesday, with a truck bearing an obelisk inscribed with the names of the martyrs of the October violence.
Chants calling for unity between Muslims and Christians could be heard in Shubra, which has a large Christian community, after a year that saw several incidents of sectarian violence.
"We are here to continue the revolution. Nothing has been achieved, the SCAF is inducing corruption in the country, and we're here to get the rights of the martyrs, the injured and all Egyptians," said Amal Mahmoud, a protester in Shubra.
Marches also started from the affluent areas of Maadi, south of Cairo, and Heliopolis, east of Cairo, reflecting the diversity of the revolution, which gathered different social strata.
Protests commemorating 25 January and demanding the end of military rule are not confined to Cairo today.
In Alexandria, activists organized several marches from around the city that are expected to convene later in the neighborhood of Sidi Gaber, near the Northern Military Zone. Students will march from Alexandria University, and hundreds of labor activists and workers are also gathering outside the main courthouse in Alexandria.
Islamists, who have a strong influence in Alexandria, are gathering outside the Qaed Ibrahim Mosque for their own celebrations. The Islamists are coming under criticism from other activists, who said at the protests that they are celebrating over the bodies of the martyrs.
"Today is not a celebration because Mubarak's regime is not yet fully removed," said Mahienour al-Masry, an Alexandria activist. "The marches this year are not as spontaneous as last year, but we have clearer demands, and today is the start of a new wave."
Masry said he believes activists this year should focus on supporting workers and independent labor movements more intensively.
Hundreds of protestors from Qena in Upper Egypt also took to the streets Wednesday morning. Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Jama'a al-Islamiya congregated in Sa’a Square to take part in the revolution anniversary celebrations.
In Aswan, the southern city of Egypt, members of tribes organized a march with swords. Walking in parades, the tribesmen used speakers to congratulate citizens who congregated in Martyrs Square in the city center.
Activists from the 6 April Youth Movement and other political parties in Daqahliya organized a protest to Mashaal Square. Demonstrators raised a large Egyptian flag and signs demanding the military council hand over power to civilians and asserting that the revolution is still ongoing.
The celebrations and protests come amid fears across the country that the day could devolve into violence. Many rushed to withdraw cash from ATM machines. Flights to Cairo International Airport were canceled, and many families stocked up on provisions at supermarkets.