Sunday, January 31, 2016

Egypt remembers 'Martyr of Roses' Shaimaa al-Sabbagh

Mada Masr
Commemorations for 'martyr of roses' Shaimaa al-Sabbagh

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Commemorations were held in Alexandria on Sunday to mark one year since the death of political activist Shaimaa al-Sabbagh at the hands of police.

Thousands of mourners also expressed condolences for the “martyr of roses,” as she has become known, on social media.

Police forces shot Sabbagh during a peaceful rally near downtown Cairo’s Talaat Harb Square on January 24, 2015, in which she, and a small group of leftist activists, held roses in remembrance of all those killed by police forces in Egypt’s 2011 revolution.

The 32-year-old poet, wife, mother of six-year-old Belal, and member of the Popular Socialist Alliance Party, became an icon of resistance and a moving symbol of police brutality on the fourth anniversary of the January 25 revolution, as photos and videos emerged of her being carried away after she was shot by security forces.

Sunday’s memorial was held at Manara Cemetery, where Sabbagh is buried in her hometown of Alexandria. Local media reported that dozens of members of the Popular Socialist Alliance Party, along with Sabbagh’s friends and family, attended the memorial, holding photos of the young activist by her graveside, which was covered with roses.

The liberal opposition April 6 Youth Movement tweeted in Arabic, “Martyr of Roses … The regime’s security forces killed her when she attempted to commemorate the martyrs of #Jan25.”

Another Twitter user wrote, “Shaimaa sought to pay tribute to the martyrs, and ended up in their company.”

Egypt’s prosecutor general referred 13 members of the Popular Socialist Alliance Party to investigation following Sabbagh's death, for protesting without permission. However, they were acquitted by an appeals court in October 2015.

In June, the police officer accused of killing Sabbagh was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the excessive use of force. Lieutenant Yassin Salah Eddin appealed the verdict, which is due to be heard in court on February 14.

Only a handful of Egypt’s security forces have been brought to trial for the deaths of protesters in the last five years.

The day after Sabbagh’s death, security forces killed 18 protesters, injured 52, and arrested several others on January 25, 2015, according to Health Ministry figures.

Last year, the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi cancelled and banned all commemorations of the January 25 revolution, choosing instead to mark the death of the Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, who passed away on January 23.

*Photo courtesy of Shaimaa al-Sabbagh Facebook page

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