Rallies held across Egypt to commemorate Rabaa massacre
Egyptians have taken to the streets to mark the second anniversary of the August 2013 attacks on protest camps in Egypt, during which hundreds of people were killed, Press TV reports.
Cities across Egypt were the scene of mostly peaceful rallies before and after the Friday prayers, with people chanting slogans in memory of the victims of the massacre.
On August 14, 2013, Egyptian security forces launched violent attacks on protest camps at Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in the capital, Cairo, and Nahda Square in Giza, the third largest city in Egypt.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said over 815 people were killed at Rabaa Square, whereas the Egyptian Health Ministry put the death toll at 638. The rights organization said last year that the massacre was one of the world’s largest in a single day in recent history.
An absolute majority of those killed were followers of Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, who was ousted on July 3 the same year in a military coup led by then head of the armed forces and current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Demonstrator on Friday marched in Egypt’s second largest city of Alexandria as well as in cities across Giza Province, while rallies were also held in the Nile Delta provinces of Sharqia, Qalyubia, and Kafr el-Sheikh, all of them north of Cairo.
Similar protests were also staged in Fayoum and Bani Suef in the south, and in Minya in central Egypt.
The demonstrations came in response to a call by the Muslim Brotherhood, which issued an official statement on Thursday calling on Egyptians to mark the anniversary as “A Day of Rage” and “A Revolutionary Uprising against the Killers.”
The statement designated the Rabaa massacre as a crime carried out with the help of an “international and regional collusion.”
“The day will come when perpetrators of the crime will be held accountable,” the Brotherhood statement read.
However, the number of people attending the demonstrations was fewer than expected, as many had feared a contribution might lead to their arrest.
Tens of thousands have been arrested since July 2013, with government and the judiciary continuing a heavy-handed crackdown on the followers of the Brotherhood and other opposition parties.
On Friday, police attacked some gatherings, including one in Cairo’s eastern neighborhood of Matariya, with reports saying that several were arrested and others were injured in the attacks.
Security forces have also arrested dozens of activists over the past few days in a bid to prevent people from attending the rallies. Reports say that some activists have been put under house arrest.
The Egyptian Interior Ministry had said any gathering on the day of the anniversary amounted to an incitement attempt against the state and was illegal. Major squares in Cairo and other cities were closed with security guards in presence.
The Egyptian government faces growing criticism over its handling of political activists behind bars, with reports showing that more prisoners are dying inside detention facilities due to a lack of proper medical care.
In the most recent move to overshadow the Rabaa commemoration, municipal authorities in Cairo decided to change the name of the iconic square to Hesham Barakat, in a bid to praise the top prosecutor who ordered the raid on the square. Barakat was recently killed in an attack by affiliates of the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group in Egypt.