How it all started

There has been much confused speculation about how the violence between families of martyrs, demonstrators and police started last Tuesday night (even as that violence takes on new twists and turns). The interview below (in Arabic) carried out with Magdy Iskander Saad, the father of a martyr, by the online independent journalism site huqook dot com, tells an extraordinary story that I haven't heard elsewhere in such detail. The families of martyrs, the man says, were summoned to a theatre in Giza on Tuesday--because the army wanted to hear why they were protesting all the time. When they got there, army officers said they wanted to honor them and their dead children. (Now I'm paraphrasing what he says..) A mother of a martyr said, politely: "What do you mean a party? We don't care about parties. We want justice for our children's blood. And that justice is the death penalty for Habib Al Adli and his officers and Mubarak who told him: take care of things." The woman got into an argument with an army officer; it escalated; and he hit her in the face. Her son intervened -- and has already been condemned to three years in jail by a military court. The martyrs' families ran off (tearing down a picture of Mubarak they noticed on the way) and it all took off from there. At least according to this testimony. 



Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.