After the Revolution: Egypt Remembers Its Martyrs

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Egyptian al-Ahly football club ultras and protesters gather in Cairo's Tahrir square during a demonstration demanding justice for the victims of the 2012 Port Said football match killings, on 18 January 2013. (Photo: AFP - Ahmed Mahmoud)

By: Rana Mamdouh

Published Friday, January 25, 2013

On the eve of the Egyptian Revolution’s two-year anniversary, families and friends of the uprising’s martyrs are still waiting for justice.

Some of those killed in the course of the revolution, like the 73 that lost their lives in a football match in Port Said last February, were only recently declared martyrs by the state. President Mohamed Mursi surprised everyone by issuing a decree adding the Port Said martyrs to the government’s official roster.

This, however, corresponded with the attorney general’s request for the criminal court in Port Said to postpone its judgement in the case – which was to be issued on Saturday – and to reopen the investigation. The attorney general attributed his request to the emergence of new evidence in the case.

Yet many Egyptians interpreted the postponement as an attempt to delay the court’s decision so as not to coincide with the revolution’s second anniversary, relieving the president of additional pressure from the street.

The government’s official count of revolutionary martyrs submitted in October 2012 was 840, not including the recent addition of the Port Said toll. Rights groups estimate that the number is much higher – with over 1,100 dead and 5,300 injured.

President Mursi has recognized martyrs officially so that their families can receive compensation, but he has not pursued or punished the killers. The recent acquittal of several interior ministry commanders and officers who were accused of having killed protesters is but one example.

This is despite the fact that Mursi appointed a new attorney general because he felt that the martyrs’ cases were not being handled properly.

Today the Muslim Brotherhood and their political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, are striking a tone that sounds quite similar to that of the previous regime.

The Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide, for example, has warned against attempts to spread chaos on the anniversary of the revolution, insisting that it should be a happy occasion now that Egypt has both an elected president and a constitution approved by the people.

But those who participated in the revolution and continue to carry its mantle will not forget their fallen brothers and sisters – from the toppling of Mubarak, through the bloody days of military rule, to the Brotherhood’s consolidation of power.

They will remember the 800 martyrs of the first stage of the revolution that toppled Mubarak and the virginity tests carried out by the armed forces on female protesters in April 2011, after the dictator had fallen.

And how can they forget the brutal Maspero massacre in which 27 mostly Coptic Christian protesters were crushed under the wheels of the military’s armored vehicles?

There are also the deadly clashes that took place on Mohamed Mahmoud Street near the ministry of interior, not to mention those recently killed a few meters from Mursi’s presidential palace during protests against the new constitution.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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