Cairo: Several thousand Egyptians marched for miles through Cairo on Wednesday, marking the anniversary of a military crackdown on Christian protesters that killed 26 people and demanding retribution against army leaders they hold responsible for the deaths.
Muslim clerics, Christian priests, activists and liberal former lawmakers joined the procession, filling large boulevards to memorialise the "Maspero massacre," referring to the name of the state TV building overlooking the Nile River where the violence took place a year ago.
The protest last year was led by hundreds of Christians angered over a string of attacks on churches and denouncing the military which ruled the country at the time for failing to protect them. Soldiers attacked the crowd, with military vehicles running over some protesters, while others were killed by gunshots. Almost all the dead were Christians.
It was some of the worst state perpetrated and sectarian violence during the 17 months of military rule that followed the toppling of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.
For many Egyptians, the scenes of bloodshed altered their views of the generals who had taken power, led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.
For many in Egypt`s Coptic Christian minority, the violence marked a turning point, ending their faith that the state would protect them in the face of increasingly assertive Islamic hardliners. Christian worries have only grown since Islamist Mohammed Morsi, Egypt`s first freely elected president, came to power in late June, ending military rule.
This evening, the crowd marched about six kilometers to the TV building, retracing the route the march a year ago took. "The people want the execution of the field marshal," many chanted, referring to Tantawi. Others carried a banner reading, "Put them on trial," with pictures of Tantawi and other members of the military council he headed.
In a funeral style procession, the crowd carried a replica of a sun boat the curved boat that the ancient pharaohs would have buried with them to take them into the afterlife with images of those killed in the crackdown.