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Egypt bids farewell to young victims of recent political violence

Two funerals are held on Monday for two young men on opposite sides of political spectrum laid low by latest outbreak of political violence

Ekram Ibrahim from Cairo and Yasmine Fathy from Damanhour, Monday 26 Nov 2012
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Egyptians march in the funeral of 16 years old Gaber Salah, known as "Jika" in Mohamed Mahmoud Street, Cairo on Monday. (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

As Egypt's ongoing political battle heats up, Egypt bid farewell on Monday to two new 'martyrs,' aged 15 and 16, in two emotional and painful funerals – one on Mohamed Mahmoud Street near Cairo's Tahrir Square and the other in the Nile Delta city of Damanhour.

"If I fail to come back, I ask the people to continue with the revolution and claim our rights," wrote Gaber Salah – known to his friends as 'Jika' – on his Facebook page shortly before his death.

Many Egyptians answered his call and marched in the funeral of 16-year-old Jika on Monday in Tahrir Square and to Mohamed Mahmoud Street. Jika lost his life while taking part in the first anniversary of last year's Mohamed Mahmoud Street clashes. Jika died after being shot in his head and chest by a rubber bullet.

"I am not here to pursue the revolution's demands, but for retribution for the murderers of Egyptians. I can't forget my friend who was killed in this area," Mohab Selim, one of Jika's friends, told Ahram Online.

The people stood hand-in-hand on both sides of Mohamed Mahmoud Street – since dubbed 'Eyes of Freedom Street' – creating a path for the coffin to pass through. The walls of the street remain covered in graffiti, telling the stories of those who fell during and after Egypt's January 25 Revolution.

"The revolution has turned into coffins," Rasha Azab, activist and member of the 'No to Military Trials' campaign, who marched in the funeral, told Ahram Online.

Jika was like a son to many of the Egyptians who came to the funeral. "Jika was the same age as my grandson; I could not stay at home while my heart is in pain," Soaad Fouad, who participated in the march in her wheelchair, told Ahram Online.

No political banners or chants were allowed at the funeral. Each time someone began a political chant, other people quickly silenced them. Women, as well as men, were in tears; both young and old were also in pain.

Jika, who died in Qasr El-Aini Hospital on Sunday, took part in last year's Mohamed Mahmoud clashes.

"I am going for the sake of the blood of our brothers and sisters; I am going to Mohamed Mahmoud for the sake of the revolution; I, am also going because I carried with my own hands my friend, Ahmed Osama, after being killed; I am going to regain my country," Salah posted on his Facebook page before taking part in the first anniversary of last year's Mohamed Mahmoud protests.

Different faces from Egypt's political opposition were also present at the funeral, including former presidential contender Hamdeen Sabahi, head of Egypt's Popular Current, and Amr Hamzawi, prominent member of the Free Egypt Party.

In response, President Mohamed Morsi's official Facebook page posted an entry announcing his condolences for the death of both Gaber and 15-year-old Islam Masoud, who was killed in an attack Sunday night on an office of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party.

The president said he was awaiting results of investigations into both deaths, stressing that whoever was responsible would not escape punishment.

An Ahram Online reporter reported that thousands of people also marched in Masoud's funeral in Damanhour. The Muslim Brotherhood claims Masoud was a member of the group, although this remains unconfirmed.

"Islam, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was killed after being hit in the head by a stone. They killed him to create conflict in the country," Brotherhood member Ahmed Nassar told Ahram Online.

The funeral kicked off from Al-Hedaia Mosque in Damanhour around 2:30pm, after which participants marched around the governorate chanting slogans. "Go, Islam, and wait for us at heaven's door," they chanted. Most attendees were moved to tears – even those who didn’t take part in the funeral were visibly emotional.

"Whether or not he is a brotherhood member, it's enough that there is a mother who has lost her 15-year-old son," Amal Ali, who attended the funeral, told Ahram Online.

Leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, along with members of the Salafist movement, were also present at the funeral as well.

Clashes between Brotherhood and anti-Brotherhood forces in Damanhour broke out on Saturday evening and left 26 injured. They re-erupted on Sunday evening in the city's Saea Square, leading to Masoud's death.

Protests and clashes erupted in various governorates of Egypt after Morsi released a constitutional decree augmenting his powers. More protests – both for and against Morsi's decree – are planned for Tuesday. Many fear more violence between the two rival political camps.

All political parties, both Islamist and non-Islamist, have denounced the latest bloodshed and issued appeals for calm. 

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27-11-2012 08:30am
Ye many journalists apply bias in critic.They much critic government and rare to critic oppositions.In the other hand they much do critic rather than motivate people about how to build the country.
Comment's Title

Mahdi Ashur
26-11-2012 10:37pm
The Judges are corrupt
TH: Mursi was only trying to preempt and undercut Mubarak's remnants who are waiting for the opportune time to carry out a coup and declare the Presidential elections null and void. These are Mubarak's judges who kept utterly silent for 30 years of corruption, despotism and treason.
Comment's Title

Mahdi Okasha
26-11-2012 10:32pm
Most Egyptians support Mursi
TH: This is democracy, even one vote makes a difference. If you are so sure that Mursi doesn't enjoy the support of most Egyptians, then wait for the referendum on the constitution. Beside, this site said recently that Mursi was enjoying a 79 % support rating among Egyptians. According to your logic, all presidents in democratic countries, including France and the US, should be disqualified since less than 50% of eligible voters actually voted. It is nonsense.
Comment's Title

Abdul Muni'em Riyad
26-11-2012 08:19pm
Your coverage is biased
It is clear that your coverage is biased. You seem to support criminal violence and rampage against an elected president. This is sad, but you will undoubtedly fail because up to 80 % of the people are behind the President.
Comment's Title
27-11-2012 11:30am
biased coverage
Yes, media coverage of the recent events are totally biased.They are only highlighting voices of the mionority segments who are ant-Mocry views.They are ignoring the voices of masses who are fully supporting President's moves.They are ignoring pro morsi voices and rallies in the street.Media is keep silent on recent terrorist and fascism of so callled leftist,liberal & remanants of Mubrak regime.We cannot excel and progress in the path of democracy and rule of law without cleasning of old regime loyals in the media and judiciary.

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