Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi says the government “will not rest until it cuts off the hand of terrorism.” He was speaking at Monday’s official dedication of a new monument to be erected in the center of Tahrir Square.
Beblawi and Cairo Governor Galal al-Saeed together laid the first brick of what is to be a larger structure in remembrance of those who died in the 2011 revolution and the protests which followed. Saeed said a competition will be held to choose the best design for the square and the monument.
Ahead of the ceremony, the square was closed off to traffic with barbed wired and army tanks, bringing downtown rush-hour traffic to a near standstill. By mid-day, security forces allowed pedestrians to enter the square, but vehicle traffic continued to be blocked.
The ceremony came one day ahead of the second anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes between protesters and police forces, which left tens dead.
Tahrir Square is due to remain closed in anticipation of protests planned to commemorate the 2011 deaths and further violence that broke out a year later.
Activists have decided not to protest in Mohamed Mahmoud to avoid confrontations with security forces, and instead will hold a silent protest to remember the day, the privately owned Al-Watan newspaper reported.
Revolutionary activists were expected to march from Jika’s house to Abdeen Square, where people can pay their respects to martyrs of 2011 and 2012, according to Al-Watan. Jika is the nickname of Gaber Saleh, who was shot dead last year during marches organized to commemorate the first anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes.
Islamist groups also said that they will hold protests, but away from Tahrir Square. There were reports, however, that Muslim Brotherhood members may individually join demonstrations in Tahrir and Mohamed Mahmoud.
The monument has stirred controversy and was met with skepticism over its stated purpose of “commemorating the martyrs of the two revolutions of January 25 and June 30.”
Activist Nazly Hussein earlier told Mada Masr that she sees the monument as an attempt to blur the lines between the January 25, 2011 revolution which is more widely acknowledged as a revolution of the people, and June 30, 2013, which remains controversial, as some consider it a revolution and others a military coup.
It is also seen by many as an attempt to equate the events of the 2011 uprising with the more controversial June 30, 2013 mass protests which led to the removal of Mohamed Morsi.