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Protesters return to Tahrir Square to mark deadly 2011 Egyptian clash

| Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, 9:42 p.m.

CAIRO — Protesters returned to Egypt's Tahrir Square on Tuesday for the first time since the military overthrew Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy in July, this time to mark the two-year anniversary of one of the deadliest clashes between security forces and demonstrators demanding civilian rule.

The protest was an effort to restart the push for democratic reforms, but with support for the military soaring among Egyptians, the demonstration instead showcased the uphill battle democracy advocates face.

On Nov. 19, 2011, tens of thousands filled every corner of Tahrir Square and neighboring Mohammed Mahmoud Street. At least 42 were killed when the military sought to clear the square. On Tuesday, the crowds were much smaller.

Demonstrators called for the end of an Egypt controlled by the three institutions that have governed this nation for the past six decades — the military, the so-called remnants of the former regime represented by another toppled president, Hosni Mubarak, and the Muslim Brotherhood, the secretive organization through which Morsy ascended to the presidency. But once again, the democracy advocates offered no one as an alternative to lead Egypt.

The ability of those who call for change to spell out only what they don't want is one reason many Egyptians have turned to the military, the only institution that has a history of bringing stability, albeit with brute force. The constant change and instability that characterized Egypt since Mubarak's resignation in early 2011 has been worse, many believe.

The protesters chanted the same phrases that they did two years ago and carried coffins bearing the names of those killed then. Friends who found each other in the sparse crowd hugged, making the protest appear as much a reunion among old allies as a call for change. At least five people were arrested and 15 were injured, according to state media.

The revolutionaries acknowledged that they have lost the public support they once enjoyed.

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