Addressing tens of thousands of Egyptians Saturday evening during a ceremony commemorating the 39th anniversary of Egypt's "victory" over Israel during the October 1973 war, President Mohamed Morsi said, "It was a monumental event. We will never forget the heroes and shahids (martyrs)."
Morsi was elected president of Egypt after Hosni Mubarak, a hero of the Yom Kippur War, was ousted. Earlier this week, on Thursday, he laid a wreath on slain president Anwar Sadat's grave in a rare homage from an Islamist leader.
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Prior to the ceremony, a small rally in support of the ailing Mubarak was held outside Tora Prison, where he is serving a life sentence.
During the memorial ceremony, which was held at Cairo's soccer stadium, Morsi said "today is a day of victory. This has been a happy day for the past 39 years. The commanders and soldiers crossed the Suez Canal, demolished the Bar-Lev line and entered Sinai. It was a decisive campaign, and thanks to Allah Egypt retrieved not only its land, but also its dignity and pride."
Morsi linked Egypt's achievements during the war to the January 25 revolution, which led to Mubarak's downfall. "The 1973 war was a historic victory that restored the dignity of all Egyptians. The second victory came during the January 25 revolution, when the people and the army united. The January 25 Revolution was peaceful before the hand of betrayal turned it violent."
'We will remember shahids.' Morsi at ceremony (Photo: Reuters)
"We will remember those who sacrificed themselves," the Egytian president said. "We will not forget the heroes and shahids (martyrs)," he told the cheering crowd.
Egypt's new Islamist president also defended his record in his first 100 days in office while acknowledging that he has not fulfilled all of his promises and that much work lies ahead.
Mubarak supporters outside prison (Photo: AP)
Morsi, who is Egypt's first civilian president, promised during the campaign to solve some of the country's most pressing issues in his first three months in power. Critics say little has been achieved since he took office in June.
But in a nearly two-hour speech on the anniversary of Egypt's 1973 war with Israel, Morsi responded by touting what he said were his administration's accomplishments over its first 100 days, including fighting corruption and trying to restore security.
He also vowed to enact reforms to fulfill the goals of last year's uprising that toppled Mubarak.
Meanwhile, a group of women gathered outside Tora Prison to honor Mubarak, who is serving a life sentence for his role in the killing of hundreds of protesters during the revolution in Egypt. The women waved signs reading, "The history of our hero will not be forgotten."
Mubarak was the commander of Egypt's air force during the 1973 war.
AP and AFP contributed to the report