Saturday, December 22, 2012

In Memorium: Mohamed Mostafa Karika

I was just headed back to the hotel from my second reconnaissance of Tahrir Square for this Friday, December 21, 2012. That morning's visit revealed a relatively quiet square, much like it has typically been before prayers. Like usual, opinions as to the amount of activity the day would see varied from "nothing" to "it will be very big."

I returned to the Square around 5pm, this time, fortunately, with the camera. Small crowds were gathering, typically surrounding unusually large and professionally manufactured banners reflecting contrasting political sentiments. It didn't feel like anything unusual would be happening - but then as I turned to head away I noticed something strange.

From south to north along the western edge of the Square a twisting line of people - mostly youth - had gathered. It was odd, both for its location and its formation. I puzzled over what was happening, and wondered if they might be forming to begin a march to another site, knowing that protests now occur at various places throughout Cairo. Upon closer look I realized that there were actually two lines, at most two persons deep, facing each other.
They formed a twisting alley that extended across a good 50 yards. Despite the volume of youth, mostly male, in a Square that is known for its wild exuberance, there was a perceptible somberness. Soon they began lighting small candles, first holding them in hand, and then, upon some unseen instruction, placed them in the alley they formed.

I noticed several people taking photos - even entering the alley and tracing its length - so I ventured closer, still not understanding clearly what was the subject of this apparently very serious ceremony. I found one of the few open spots in the west facing line and began to take some photos. A young man next to me (who later shied away from me taking his own photo) tapped me gently on the shoulder and asked if I would take a picture of a photograph of a young man that he held in his hand; and, next, of a small card he produced when I asked him who the young man was.

The Martyr, Hero, Engineer
Mohamad Mostofa Karika
The events of the Cabinet
21st Dec. 2011 - 21st Dec. 2012
"Martyr for Freedom"
These were members of the famed sports group Ultra Ahlawi and they had gathered to honor their 19 year old friend and colleague and engineering student who was shot in the back by military forces as they cleared the Square exactly one year ago. He died the next day, despite feverish attempts in the hospital to save him. Apparently, the trail of his blood extended the very length of the alley that they now formed.

Once the candles had dimmed, the group gathered in front of a large projection screen, sat, and watched a series of scenes of their lost comrade.

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