A mini-Egyptian revolution hit Tahrir Square Monday afternoon as more than 1500 Egyptians filled the funeral of the 23-year-old martyr Mahmoud Khaled, with tears and anger. A highly circulated YouTube video shows a US diplomatic car intentionally running Khaled over on 28 January. Then several police officers beat him in a scene that is hardly erased from Egyptians’ minds. It has been almost five month, yet the driver of the car has yet to be investigated and people feel not much has changed in Egypt after the revolution.
“This martyr died for us to live a better life; it is painful that he died and all the corrupt figures are behind bars, but no court has handed down a sentence,” said Fatma Abdullah, Mahmoud's aunt.
Khaled’s funeral was planned after midday prayers at Omar Makram Mosque, Tahrir Square, but the family endured a long debate with the hospital before it released the body at 6pm. The hospital classified Khaled’s death as a car accident and told the father he either had to sign the official statement or the body goes through a lengthy autopsy. Usually the martyr’s family refuses to sign any document that attributes the death to anything other than a gunshot wound during the protests.
Activists took the issue to both the prosecutor general and the prime minister’s office. The prosecutor general sent a representative to the hospital to release the body with only an external autopsy.
“There was no part of Khaled’s body that was not broken; he could not undergo an autopsy,” said a volunteer who used to take care of Khaled told Ahram Online (she preferred her name be kept anonymous).
He died after five months of poor hospitalisation, and on the day of the release of his body, a couple of hundreds marched with it from Qasr El-Aini public hospital to Tahrir Square, similar to the Friday 28 January marches – the day that mobile communication was cut and the police and thugs attacked peaceful protesters.
“We promise you, Mahmoud that we will return to Tahrir,” “The people want the [ex] president to be tried” and “The interior ministry has killed our sons,” were people’s chants during the funeral.
The number of followers increased dramatically until the funeral reached Tahrir Square. Policemen helped the funeral to move peacefully and stopped the car traffic “as if Egypt is standing in a moment of silence over the death of its martyr,” one of family members of the martyr described the scene to Ahram Online.
After the funeral and the funeral prayer, the martyr’s family, accompanied by several Egyptians, went to the family’s graves at El-Megawrin, Cairo.
Hospitals have been the source of many problems, especially with the martyr’s bodies. “...19 martyrs were buried without informing their families,” Amar Ali Hassan, a political writer who was present at the funeral told Ahram Online.
Many attending the funeral expressed their frustration that the revolution has not changed much in Egypt: “We know corruption is ongoing and without the push of the people who are standing here waiting for the funeral, the body wouldn’t have been released that way,” Abdel Wahab Hamdi, who has been waited for the funeral to start for almost three hours.
Moreover, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf sent a representative, Ehab Medhat, to the funeral whose flippant excuse for the delay in the funeral was “summing up some paper work."
The full hospitalisation fees were paid by Heba El-Sewidi, charity volunteer, who has helped many martyrs of the revolution, a fact that has left many Egyptians even angrier because the government has not paid a thing. "I see that the people have the right to get angry about not covering the hospitalisation of the revolution injures and a law is being issued to be implemented in July," Medhat told Ahram Online.
Interestingly, some local online news sources have reported that the funeral has taken place at midday as planned, before the body was even released. “They are afraid that such a funeral would bring back the emotions of the revolution to the people, so they usually try to dissipate it using tactics,” Ali Hassan explained to Ahram Online.
In response to the feelings of injustice and corruption, several people have been for almost a week calling for a “second revolution” on 8 July. “If you feel that nothing has changed and the martyr’s blood is worth taking action, join Tahrir Square on 8 July” was repeated during the funeral.