CAIRO: When Mena Maher, 10, was killed Jan. 25 in Matariya, Cairo, protesters and the police were using live ammunition, human rights researcher Mina Thabet told The Cairo Post Friday, quoting eyewitnesses.
Some of the protesters looked familiar to Matariya locals, as demonstrators supporting the Muslim Brotherhood have marched in the area every Friday since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, the eyewitnesses told Thabet, who specializes in minorities issues at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms.
“There were clashes and, at least in Mena’s case, the violence was indiscriminate. The locals saw weapons in the hands of the protesters, but they usually refuse to reveal information about themselves or the protesters in fear of retaliation,” Thabet said.
Mena’s last picture before his death
Mena took money from his only sister to buy candy, but a protest was marching near his home at that time, his mother told Youm7. Some eye-witnesses told Thabet that the protesters had already begun using firearms, birdshot, and Molotov cocktails before the police appeared in sight, but Thabet said such testimonies cannot be verified.
Matariya, a blue-collar district in northern Cairo, witnessed the deaths of 12 on Jan. 24-26 during the fourth anniversary of Egypt’s 2011 uprising. A total of 23 across Egypt died in the events, including protesters, policemen, and persons planting explosives.
Police spokesperson Hany Abdel Latif told ON TV Jan. 28 that “rioters” in Matariya do not reside in the neighborhood, and that they try to push the police into street fights in slums.
Thabet, however, said testimonies are contradictory in this regard, as some locals claim the protesters belong to Matariya, and others claim they are from elsewhere.
Police controlling protests at Matariya Jan. 25 – Youm7
Mena wanted to become a verger and loved going to the church, his mother told Youm7 in a video posted Thursday.
“Only God will avenge him,” Mena’s mother said, refusing to accuse anyone of his death, caused by a bullet in the neck.
The fifth grader, whose father died three years ago, had already bought a suit to attend his sister’s wedding next month – Youm7
“As much as I miss, I am happy you are in a better place,” said Mena’s mother in Youm7’s video.
“… he was shot, he was at my place, I swear, I swear he was at my place. I wish I had not let him out, God, I am mistaken, I am mistaken, I am mistaken. I failed you, Mena. I failed you Mena, you were at my place, my love. I swear, he was at my place,” a woman cried in a video shot by Akhbar el-Youm during Mena’s funeral.
“I can’t, God, do a miracle. Hear me out, God,” another woman cried at the funeral.
Two other Copts were killed at the Matariya clashes; Peter Ebeid, 23, was shot at a mobile phones store and died a few days later. Fruiterer Ashraf Ibrahim was killed at his shop.
Thabet said although many of the shops in Matariya are known to be owned by Copts, he could not allege they were targeted.
Minister of Solidarity Ghada Wali visited Mena’s family Jan. 30 to offer her condolences and delivered 10,000 EGP ($1,310) in support of the widow’s social circumstances – Youm7
Mena’s Arabic handwriting, dated Oct. 29, 2014 – Youm7