Memorial to protesters damaged in Cairo
19 November 2013, 14:58
Cairo - Unknown assailants damaged early on Tuesday the
foundation in Cairo's famed Tahrir square for a future memorial dedicated to
protesters killed in Egypt's revolutionary turmoil of the past two and a half
The attackers, mostly men in their early 20s, used rocks to
chip away at the large foundation stone and sprayed it with red graffiti
denouncing ousted President Mohammed Morsi and also General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi,
the military chief who removed him in July after days of mass protests
demanding that the Islamist leader step down.
The attack underscored the deep scars left by the political
turmoil in Egypt since Hosni Mubarak's ouster in 2011, with revolutionary
groups feeling betrayed by successive governments whose main failures, in their
view, was the inability to dismantle the Mubarak regime and ensure retribution
for the hundreds of protesters killed at the hands of police and soldiers since
Some of those who participated in that revolt and the mass
anti-Morsi protests in June feel the memorial does not honor the dead as much
as it tries to paper over the continuing deep disputes over Egypt's future.
They say the military-backed interim government, which was brought to power
after the July coup that ousted Morrsi is seeking to impose its control over
what they see as an intrinsically anti-authoritarian space.
The pre-dawn attack on Tuesday came just hours after
military-backed Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Biblawi inaugurated the
foundation in a ceremony held amid tight security. All entrances to the square
were sealed off by security forces and armored personnel carriers, which caused
hours of traffic congestion in Cairo.
Egypt's revolutionary groups were to mark later on Tuesday
the second anniversary of some of the fiercest confrontations between Egyptian
protesters and security forces on a street near Tahrir. The clashes in Mohammed
Mahmoud street killed at least 45 people. Rallies are also expected later in
the day amid fears of more unrest and violence.
The groups claim that since Morsi's ouster in the July 3
coup, the police returned to their brutal ways under Mubarak's 29-year rule and
that widespread human rights abuses are being committed under the pretext of
fighting a war against terrorism. They also accuse the military of seeking to
restore its domination of the country at the expense of freedoms.
Since the coup, militants, some with al-Qaeda links, have
been battling security forces and the army in the strategic Sinai Peninsula in
what has become a full-fledged insurgency. Elsewhere, there have been bombings
and large-scale attacks, including an assassination attempt against the
interior minister, who is in charge of the police.
In one of the latest attacks, a senior security officer in
charge of monitoring Islamist groups, including Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, was
gunned down on Sunday in Cairo's Nasr City district, a Brotherhood stronghold
and home to several military barracks.
"We don't want to be ruled by soldiers and we don't
want to be ruled by a Brotherhood that peddles religion," the men chanted
around the damaged foundation in Tahrir. "I want to say a word in your ear
el-Sissi, don't even dream of becoming my president," they chanted.
El-Sissi has not ruled out a run in next year's presidential