CAIRO — In honor of the two-year anniversary of popular strikes centered around Egypt’s Tahrir Sqaure, the new democratically elected government has told police to open fire on Tahrir Square protestors. The government agonized for weeks about what an appropriate commemoration would be, nixing a fireworks display and building a commemorative arch, before deciding to kill and maim protestors.
“The police crackdown is the perfect way to commemorate the brave men and women who took to the streets to defy Hosni Mubarak,” said the new Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, as he signed an executive order allowing tear gas to be employed against the demonstrators.
The government has taken the veneration of the 2011 protests very seriously. To celebrate the fall of Mubarak’s dictatorship the government has also politicized the courts and refused to meet with opposition leaders. Morsi says it is extremely important that people recognize he is only killing protestors in 2013 to honor the protestors from 2011.
Across Egypt, reactions to Morsi’s crackdown have been positive. “This is what we fought for,” said Omar Al-Azaabi, a Cairo merchant who protested in 2011 and now in 2013. “Last time we demonstrated a despot used his police force to brutally beat and kill us, but now we are maimed and murdered by a police force claiming to be a democratically elected government!” An exuberant Al-Azaabi added: It is a very exciting time to be an Egyptian.” People around the country have applauded the new government for coupling the police brutality with rules limiting freedom of expression.
The Cairo police force has taken its ceremonial duty to maim protestors very seriously. Government issued billy clubs, used to beat demonstrators in Tahrir Square, have been engraved with the slogan “remember Tahrir Square.” The police are already looking forward to next year’s protest commemoration. Some officers, however, have expressed fear that in 2014 the military may be allowed to indiscriminately murder the demonstrators, an act that would marginalize the police’s role in the celebration.