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Protester’s funeral becomes anti-Brotherhood rally

Mursi’s office mourns the 16-year-old and vows to bring perpetrators to justice

Image Credit: AP
Egyptian security forces arrest a protester during clashes near Tahrir square in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012.
Gulf News

Cairo: Hundreds of mourners on Monday attending a funeral of a youngster, fatally shot in clashes with police in Cairo, vented their wrath on President Mohammad Mursi and his party the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Egypt is not a private property of the Brotherhood. Its regime has lost legitimacy,” chanted protesters, as they marched behind a coffin draped in the national flag containing the body of Jaber Salah. “Rest in peace, Jaber and we’ll continue the struggle,” they shouted.

Nicknamed Jika, Jaber, 16, was shot in the head and the chest on November 18 when clashes erupted between security forces and activists commemorating the first anniversary of protesters killed by police in the Mohammad Mahmoud Street near Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

Jaber was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with stroke and was kept on a life support machine until he was pronounced dead on Sunday. His family accused police of killing him, and held Mursi responsible for his death. Hamdeen Sabahi and Khalid Ali, two former presidential contenders, attended the funeral service, along many other opposition protesters.

Ahead of the funeral, protesters had marched across Tahrir Sqaure, the cradle of a revolt that toppled former strongman Hosni Mubarak more than a year ago, and chanted slogans against Mursi and police. Few metres away, verses from the Quran could be heard across microphones in memory of Jaber. The square was closed to the traffic.

Jaber’s friends said he had campaigned for Mursi during the latter’s competition for Egypt’s top post in a June run-off against Ahmad Shafiq, the last premier of Mubarak.

“I’m supporting Mursi because if Shafiq won, he would order police to shoot when we stage demonstrations,” Amin Hesham, a friend of Jaber, quoted him as saying. “But he [Jaber] had not known that Mursi would be his killer,” added Hesham.

Mursi’s office on Monday mourned Jaber and a Brotherhood youngster killed in clashes with protesters in the Nile Delta city of Damanhur. “Those responsible for the martyrdom of any Egyptian will undoubtedly be brought to justice,” said the presidential office in a statement.

The funeral of Jaber, a secondary school student, was held in Tahrir according to his wish, said the key protest April 6 Group, of which he was a member. The procession passed through the Mohamad Mahmoud Street as protesters formed human chains on both sides of the road, a scene of frequent violence between police and anti-government demonstrators.

The sombre funeral came a day before different opposition groups stage a mass protest in Tahrir to push Mursi to rescind his decree to grant himself sweeping powers. The Muslim Brotherhood plans a big protest outside Cairo University on the other bank of the Nile to show support for Mursi.

The decree, which exempts Mursi’s decisions of judicial review, has sharply divided Egypt and triggered clashes between opponents and supporters.

The opposition has condemned the move as a “coup against legitimacy and democracy”. Mursi and his backers, meanwhile, advocated the decree as aimed at protecting the uprising against Mubarak.