Egypt Independent

New memorial in Tahrir Square stirs controversy



Construction of a new memorial in the center of Tahrir Square dedicated to the martyrs of the 25 January and 30 June uprisings has stirred controversy among critics.
 
Approved by the Cairo governor, work on the memorial began on Saturday and has been undertaken by state-owned company Al-Abd Construction.
 
The opening ceremony of the memorial, which will be attended by the Cairo governor, the prime minister and members of the cabinet, has been timed to coincide with the second anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes on Tuesday, and the memorial will bear the names its victims.
 
Revolutionary activists have pointed to the irony of the interim government commemorating the memorial to the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes, as the government is led by Defense Minister Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who was part of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces that oversaw the killing of about 35 protesters during the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes near the Interior Ministry in 2011.
 
Political activist Ahmed Douma told Egypt Independent that the plans by the current authorities to establish the memorial is merely a public relations attempt to win people over from outside the revolutionary camp. He described the plans as “a failing, fake attempt that primarily seeks trading the souls of tens of martyrs.”
 
Meanwhile, Douma says the Muslim Brotherhood is also using the second anniversary of the clashes to cajole the revolutionaries, Douma says.
 
An ardent critic of both Islamists and the military, Douma urged for practical steps to hold accountable those behind the death of the protesters, adding that both the incumbent, military-backed regime and the Muslim Brotherhood are “outbidding each other at the expense of martyrs’ bloods.”
 
Authorities are partially responsible for the massacre, Douma argues. “All had forsaken the revolutionaries and colluded against them. We are talking about a material crime by killers and a moral crime by those who backed the killers,” he said, referring to the then-ruling SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
Douma said revolutionaries will gather at Abdeen Square near the ministry one day before the anniversary to preempt what he described as potential popular clash after some called for pro-army marches during commemoration.
 
Back in 2012, during the rule of the SCAF, activists placed a memorial that had the names of the martyrs of the 25 January revolution written on it. SCAF, however, ordered the removal of the memorial, stirring controversy and fury among revolutionary activists.
 
The army, at the time, announced in a statement that the removal of the memorial was because “it was not accurate as activists might have added names of thugs or missed the names of some martyrs” and that it would wait for the right time to build a memorial that would accurately represent the martyrs.
 
 
Additional reporting by Hassan Abdel Zaher