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Asma Al-Beltagi: the child who is an icon of Rabaa Al-Adawiyyah

Asmaa Mohammed Al-Beltagi was a child in the legal sense of the word. At just 17 years old, she was mature for her age in terms of outlook and actions; she was the only girl in her family. This child was shot and killed by Egyptian security forces on “Black Wednesday”.


Coup leaders knew that her father, Mohamed Al-Beltagi, was the most important figure in Tahrir Square during the January 25 Revolution, while the Muslim Brotherhood’s youth were the guardians of the square who ran everything. They resisted during the famous “Battle of the Camel” while many others fled. His daughter Asmaa was a passenger on the Freedom Flotilla which tried to break Israel’s siege of Gaza in 2010; nine Turkish citizens were killed by Israeli commandos who attacked the ships. She was in Tahrir Square as part of the revolution, and she went to Rabaa Al-Adawiyya Square to defend it.

Asmaa Al-Beltagi was killed by a sniper’s bullets while on her way to help people who had been wounded. Her courage in the face of adversity and the dignity of her father as he announced her murder have led to Asmaa becoming an icon of Rabaa Al-Adawiyya. In what she stood for and what she did, as well as the kind-hearted way in which she went about her tasks, she represents all of the martyrs killed in the square and others like it around Egypt. They include academics, professionals and activists, some of whom were murdered in cold blood while, it is alleged, “they tried to escape from a prison van”.

As well as those killed by the security forces, many have been arrested, regardless of their age or position. Sheikh Mohammed Mahdi Akef is the former General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood. He is 86 years old and has been arrested by every regime from the time of King Farouk Gamal Abdel Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak, and now Al-Sisi. Yet if we ask most liberals, leftists, nationalists and others who imposed themselves on the revolution who has sacrificed more for the freedom and dignity of the people of Egypt, they can’t compare themselves with such giants.

The list of these great men and women is not limited to Brotherhood supporters. The Salafi Party and Al-Wasat Party have their martyrs too; men and women who have refused to bend before tyrants.

The struggle for justice has been long and is rooted in self-sacrifice, and in the conscience of the Egyptian people. The Islamist movement is known for its moral character and integrity. Yes, it has made mistakes, but there is a big difference between pursuing what is good and not quite achieving it, and going after falsehood and succeeding. That is why the coup leaders were planning to hijack the revolution from the moment that Mohamed Morsi won the election. It is a conspiracy that includes foreigners as well as Egyptians, but it will not succeed because the movement is backed by a legion of men and women who believe in its aims and objectives.

Rabaa Al-Adawiyya Square has become an icon of the revolution, and Asmaa Al-Beltagi has become an icon of Rabaa Al-Adawiyya. The four-fingered symbol of the square is going viral on social networks as the struggle for dignity and justice goes on. The blood of the martyrs like Asmaa inspired the nation and now inspires the world. Peace was their aim and peace they shall have.

Translated from the Arabic text which appeared in Ad Dustour, 24 August, 2013

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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