An Egyptian security forces’ armoured vehicle drives amid remains of a protest camp by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Mursi and members of the Muslim Brotherhood after a crackdown on August 14, 2013 near Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMOUD KHALED)
The Egyptian cabinet officially approved renaming Rabaa Al-Adaweya Square after the late Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat in its Wednesday meeting, state media reported.
This comes almost three weeks after Barakat’s assassination on 29 June, which marked the first successful assassination of a top state official in Egypt since the 1990s.
Barakat died that afternoon in Nozha Hospital due to injuries sustained in the attack, which targeted his motorcade earlier that day in the Heliopolis district of Cairo.
News of the assassination was received with grief and condemnation by different local political and social figures, parties and organisations. It was also met with regional and international condemnation.
Rabaa Al-Adaweya Square was the focal point of the Muslim Brotherhood resistance against popular demands to oust former president Mohamed Morsi in June/July 2013. Al-Nahda Square was also the site of another protest camp by supporters of the former president and Brotherhood members.
Head of the Judges Club Abdullah Fathy had announced his intention to submit a request to the cabinet immediately following Barakat’s death, to change the name of Rabaa Al-Adaweya Square to be named after Barakat.
The request was made in order to “erase the memory” of the Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in and “replace it with the everlasting memory of Barakat’s martyrdom as a respected judge”, Fathy explained in a phone interview on Al-Hayah satellite channel on the day of the assassination.
Both protest camps at Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Nahda Squares were forcibly dispersed, leaving a disputed number of deaths and injuries, with hundreds arrested in the aftermath.
The 30 June Fact Finding Committee, a government-initiated entity formed after the 30 June uprising, found that 607 protestors were killed during the Rabaa sit-in dispersal.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) however reported about 1,000 people dead, and referred to the dispersal as a “massacre”. The Egyptian government then condemned the HRW report for including “misleading information”.
The fact-finding committee, which was formed by interim president Adly Mansour to investigate the violence that occurred following Morsi’s overthrow, had come to the conclusion that the Islamist leaders, not the government, held the primary responsibility for the deaths that occurred during and following the dispersal of the Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins.
However, many local and international rights organisations, as well as some of the government-formed committees, held the security forces responsible, at varying degrees, for the number of deaths and injuries, accusing forces of using extreme measures during the dispersal.
Ever since Morsi’s ouster, Egypt has witnessed escalating violence and a rise of militant insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, with judges and other officials recently having been targeted by militants, seeking revenge for what they consider to be a military coup.