By Press Association
Yesterday's holiday was an opportunity for Egypt's leaders to further fan the pro-military fervour sweeping the country since the coup. But the holiday was also a chance for Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies to show that they are surviving a fierce crackdown that has jailed more than 2,000 from their ranks since the coup.
Thousands of their backers held marches in various parts of Cairo, while at the same time crowds in support of the military took to the streets. In some cases, the two sides set upon each other, pelting each other with rocks and firebombs.
Egypt's Health Ministry reported 51 people killed nationwide, with at least 40 of them in Cairo, and more than 240 injured. The Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the police, said 423 Morsi supporters were detained across the nation.
"It is now crystal clear that the coup is a nightmare for Egypt and its people and is trying so hard to tear the fabric of this nation," a coalition grouping the Brotherhood and its allies said in a statement.
"At the time when festivities are arranged for one section of the population, they call on Egyptians to dance on the dead bodies of their compatriots who oppose the coup," it said, calling for a rally in Tahrir Square on Friday.
The scene of yesterday's fighting in Cairo contrasted sharply with a carnival-like mood in the city's central Tahrir Square, where thousands of supporters of the military waved Egyptian flags, blew whistles and touted posters of Gen el-Sissi. Adding to the festivities, a military band in green jackets and off-white pants played, and men spun in whirling dervish-style dances.
Demonstrators distributed petitions demanding that Gen el-Sissi run for president.
"We cannot find a man who can run the country at this stage except for him (el-Sissi)," said aspiring actress Wafaa el-Sharqawi, who was distributing the Gen el-Sissi petition in Tahrir. "Can we possibly have a civilian president who is weaker than his defence minister?"
Soldiers barricaded entrances to central Tahrir Square with barbed wire and armoured personnel vehicles to guard it against possible attempts by Morsi supporters to enter the plaza, Egypt's most prominent political stage since it was the epicenter of the anti-Mubarak uprising nearly three years ago.
Metal detectors were installed at the entrances and demonstrators pouring into the square were searched by troops. Army helicopters flew low over the square, with Egypt's red, white and black flag trailing. Some two dozen F-16 jet-fighters staged a celebratory flight over Cairo in late morning, ushering in the commemoration of the 1973 war.
At 2 pm, the time the war began in 1973, church bells tolled and chants of "Allahu akbar", or "God is greatest", blared from mosques in parts of Cairo.
Still, not all in the square were enthused about the military. Moamen Mahmoud, a 23-year-old student, was in Tahrir yesterday and mused about the ironies of the shifting sands of Egypt's politics in the past two-and-a-half years. He said he took part in the 2011 uprising and in subsequent protests against the military's direct rule of the country for some 17 months after Mubarak's fall.
"I came here today because I cannot miss an occasion like this, but sadly the revolutionaries are no here. I was here once chanting against military rule and now look at this. We forgot the principles of the revolution," he said.
"Those who criticised the Brotherhood supporters for hoisting Morsi posters are now doing the same with el-Sissi's posters," said Mahmoud Badawi, a 27-year-old university graduate who is opposed to the July 3 coup. "Throughout history, military rule is corrupt."
The climax of the day's festivities was the extravaganza at the military-owned stadium in the eastern part of Cairo, attended by Gen el-Sissi and kicked off with a dazzling display of fireworks.
Gen El-Sissi's predecessor, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, was among those attending the ceremony, making his first public appearance since Morsi removed him and his chief of staff, Sami Anan, in August last year. Field Marshal Tantawi served Hosni Mubarak as defence minister for 20 years and took over the reins of the country when his mentor was ousted in a 2011 uprising.
Mr Anan, who has presidential ambitions, was not present.
Also in attendance was Gihan Sadat, widow of the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, revered as the country's 1973 war hero and the architect of his country's peace treaty six years later.