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Egyptians' rallies reflect growing political awareness

By Shaimaa Behery, Mahmoud Fouly (Xinhua)

08:39, January 28, 2013

Key Words: protests;Egypt;Mubarak;2nd anniversary;Morsi;dissatisfaction

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CAIRO, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- Egypt's recent mass protests nationwide, marking the second anniversary of the Jan. 25 revolt that ousted the former regime, reflected Egyptians' growing political awareness two years after the turmoil broke out.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the public squares Friday all over Egypt to express dissatisfaction with the current government headed by President Mohamed Morsi.

Despite being the first freely elected Egyptian president, Morsi is opposed by many people in the country, particularly the secularists, who clashed with his supporters around many decisions that the president made.

"I am here to get the rights of the victims of the uprising and to demand freedom and social justice among all people, which have not been achieved under the Islamist rule," Mohamed Goneimi, 38, told Xinhua during the protests in Tahrir Square, referring to Morsi's connection to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt has been suffering economic recession, growing budget deficit, declining foreign reserves over the past two years due to political turmoil and deteriorating security conditions.

Mostafa al-Labbad, director of Cairo-based al-Sharq Center for Regional and Strategic Studies, said that the protests indicated Egyptians' growing political awareness of their rights, which should be an "alarming message" for Morsi.

The massive protests against Morsi and his main supporters, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), increased the weight of opposition led by the National Salvation Front (NSF), which may affect the results of the upcoming parliamentary elections set to be held within three or four months.

"Democratic opposition powers in the NSF, April 6 Youth Movement, Kefaya Movement and others proved their strength in the Egyptian streets," Hussein Abdel-Raziq, an NSF member and a leading member of Tagamu Party, told Xinhua.

Aware of the situation, Islamists avoided protests on Friday and engaged in charitable activities like medical caravans and planting trees as "a constructive way of celebrating the second anniversary of the uprising," which is seen by some observers as a wise move to regain popularity.

The MB welcomed people's growing political awareness and showed acceptance of "honorable opposition."

The group's lawyer Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maqsoud praised the " honorable revolutionary forces" that peacefully expressed their opinion against Morsi, who was once leader of the MB's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).

"It is in the favor of the FJP ... to have strong opposition. The FJP would gradually become weak without effective opposition," he told Xinhua.

However, Egyptians, who hardly had any political life for decades, are intoxicated with the excessive freedom they got and are eager to protest any major decisions of the new government, who took office only six months ago.

"It is too short to evaluate a government," said Ahmed Qandil, a political expert at al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, "especially after six decades of military rule and political unawareness."

Qandil reminded the protesters that the current government " inherited a heavy weight of problems accumulated over the Mubarak era," calling for them to give Morsi enough time before evaluating his performance as a president.

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