Egyptians speak out against Rabaa Square name-change

Egyptians speak out against Rabaa Square name-change
Blog: Egyptians tell al-Araby about their displeasure over the recent name-change of Rabaa Square to honour Egypt's recently assassinated state prosecutor.
3 min read
14 Aug, 2015
Police have said they will "shoot to kill" on the anniversary of the massacre [Getty]
Egyptians have expressed deep anger over the government's renaming of Rabaa Square, on the second anniversary of the Rabaa and al-Nahda massacres.

In July, following calls made by Egypt's judges' syndicate, the cabinet officially renamed Rabaa al-Adaweya square after the assassinated prosecutor general, Hisham Barakat.

Barakat gave the green light to the armed forces to break up the Muslim Brotherhood sit-in at the square in August 2013 - a raid which left up to 900 protesters dead, and more than 3,000 injured.

We are opposed to the name-change and we will write the name Rabaa in blood on the nearby walls, buildings and streets

-Laila Sayyid, civil servant 

"The government has made a big mistake by changing the name of the square. It has done this to spite the Muslim Brotherhood and has not taken into consideration the feelings of locals who have been living around the square for decades," said accountant Mohammad Montaser.

"Everyone liked the name Rabaa and it will remain in the conciousness of future generations.

Mohammad Emad, a student at Ain Shams University, agreed:

"It seems as if the government actually hates Barakat's name and memory, because everyone who passes through Rabaa Square will see his name on a sign and remember he gave the legal permission to disperse the sit-in...

"People will only be able to remember Barakat for his evil. I certainly will curse him until the day I die, because he gave murderers legal backing and took part in killing my best friend."

Business owner Rabia Hassan added: "Many events have happened in the squares of Cairo and around Egypt. The government should have changed the names of all these square if it was scared of them. Rabaa Square's name will always be Rabaa Square."

Engineer Amr Mohammad said it would have been better to rename it "Martyrs' Square", "because of the large number of victims who were killed needlessly by security forces. The weapons should have been pointed at the criminals instead of innocent young people demanding their rights."

Lawyer Fathi Ahmad said Rabaa Square would always remain symbolic.

"Everyone in Nasr City who lives near the square is upset about getting rid of the name of the religious mystic Rabaa al-Adaweya. If the government wanted to immortalise Barakat, it should have named somewhere else in Cairo - or in the provinces - after him," he said.

"The Brotherhood and other political parties will go away but Rabaa will remain in the hearts of those who love her, God and the Prophet."

Civil servant Laila Sayyid also lives near the square.

"Rabaa Square will remain in our hearts forever," she said.

"With all due respect, the name Hisham Barakat will not roll off our tongues because we have an emotional connection to the square and our kids and relatives are also connected to the square. The government should have at least asked locals about changing the name. So we are opposed to the name-change and we will write the name Rabaa in blood on the nearby walls, buildings and streets."

Police have said they will use live ammunition on protesters who commemorate the second anniversary of the Rabaa massacre on Friday.

This blog post is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.