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Egyptians pack Cairo square to celebrate Mubarak's fall

One week after the president stepped down, thousands celebrate and pray. Many wear cards showing the faces of protesters who were killed.

February 18, 2011|By Raja Abdulrahim | Los Angeles Times
  • A military band marches into Cairo's Tahrir Square during celebrations marking President Mubarak's stepping down one week ago.
A military band marches into Cairo's Tahrir Square during celebrations… (Marco Longari, AFP/Getty…)

CAIRO — Thousands of Egyptians packed Tahrir Square on Friday in a day of victory one week after the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, turning the epicenter of the anti-government protests into a euphoric celebration.

The square was once again full of Egyptians waving flags and wearing cards around their necks with the faces of those killed in the protests.

Exiled Egyptian Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi delivered the sermon from the square decades after the government banned him from delivering Friday sermons.

Al Qaradawi, one of the leading clerics in the Muslim world, spoke from the stage where for more than two weeks speakers chanted anti-Mubarak slogans and rallied protesters.

"The youth, I want to shake each of their hands, they raised our heads in pride with what they accomplished, with what they withstood," he said.

"The revolution didn't end, the revolution has begun, it will participate in the building of Egypt, the new Egypt," he said. "Maintain the revolution and maintain your unity."

Revelers who couldn't get into the crowded square extended into the surrounding streets chanting, "The people want the purification of their land!"

During the sermon, people used Egyptian flags and prayer rugs to shield themselves from the hot sun. Once the sermon was over they returned to chanting, with their messages now ones of patriotism and holding the Mubarak government accountable.

"Raise your head high, you're Egyptian."

Young men wore and sold shirts saying: "The day we changed Egypt -- 25 January"

Also Friday, the Associated Press reported that scores of Mubarak supporters, many dressed in black, protested outside a mosque. Demonstrators held photos of the ex-president and said they wanted to honor the man who led them for nearly three decades because they felt he had been humiliated by the revolt.

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