Thousands of supporters of Mohammed Morsi descended on Tahrir square on Friday to witness Egypt’s first elected president symbolically swear himself in during his first public speech.
Dressed soberly in a blue shirt and black jacket, the winner of Egypt’s historic presidential election took to the stage in the square where the country’s revolution began last year, promising to "preserve the independence of Egypt’s republican system."
In a powerful speech, occasionally interupted by chants of "Allah Akbar" (God is Great), the 60-year-old Morsi paid tribute to Tahrir, calling it "the revolution square, the place of freedom".
Morsi was kind of aggressive, very theatrical. At one point he opened his jacket to show that he was not wearing a bullet-proof vest, saying 'I have nothing to fear, I only fear God, I'm here among you'
He also chose to salute the "Arab world, the free world and both the Muslims and Christians of Egypt".
Reporting on this historic moment, FRANCE 24’s Sonia Dridi said the atmosphere in Tahrir was highly charged.
"There were many cries of joy," she said, but "above all there was a feeling of relief from those who were concerned at the prospect of someone from the Muslim Brotherhood leading the country."
"Many were rather surprised by Morsi’s charisma and his desire to portray himself as a unifying force," Dridi added.
The Muslim Brotherhood, from whom Morsi resigned after winning the presidency, had called for a huge demonstration in Tahrir square under the slogan "Day of the Transfer of Power".
Morsi will be officially sworn in on Saturday before the Constitutional Court, as demanded by Egypt’s ruling military council.
As the first Islamist to attain the country’s highest office and the first Egyptian president who will not wear a military uniform, Morsi was keen on presenting the image of an ecumenical leader.
"We will respect the institutions of justice, I will work with you at all times and I will uphold the interests of the nation," Morsi told the crowd.
Morsi warns the military
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has committed to handing over power to Egypt’s new head of state but will remain a force in the country.
The military council currently holds a tight grip on legislative powers after it dissolved the Islamist-dominated parliament earlier this month.
Worried that the army will want to retain those powers, Morsi fired a warning shot in their direction.
"I will fight against anyone who would steal power from the people or from parliament. I am the one who decides, thanks to your vote," Morsi told supporters.
His intended target has probably understood his message clearly, said Armelle Charrier, FRANCE 24’s international affairs editor.
"Mohammed Morsi never mentioned the military, but his speech was implicitly addressed to them," Charrier noted.