January 25th, the anniversary of the Lotus Revolution, has been declared a National Day in Egypt. Major General Ismail Etman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) made the declaration on Wednesday, January 11th. The celebration carries with it a risk of violence, as Egyptians continue to sporadically protest the violations of democracy that have taken place under SCAF rule. These protests have brought the economy to a grinding halt, and a main priority of the SCAF is to improve the business climate by ending mass actions.
In a separate announcement, SCAF Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi announced the end of the “state of emergency” in Egypt, starting January 25th, 2012. The end of emergency rule has been repeatedly demanded by protestors since the Lotus Revolution began. It will mark the end of over 30 years of emergency rule, which began following the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981.
The declaration by Marshal Tantawi contained a caveat – citizens will still be subject to emergency rule in cases of “thuggery,” a term which was not defined in his announcement. Arrest and abuse of citizens charged with thuggery has been a major point of contention between the SCAF and protest groups. In the last four months the SCAF has attempted to limit accusations of thuggery, and focus on more specific charges for arrested protestors. It remains to be seen whether the majority of citizens will accept the SCAF olive branch, however some groups of protestors have called for a second revolution, scheduled to begin on January 25th.