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Martyrs’ mothers between mourning and pride

The twenty-first of March marks the celebration of Mother’s Day in Egypt. This year, however, the 25 January Revolution has left many mothers with mixed feelings as they remember their recently-departed children, who died as revolutionary martyrs. A sense of grief is blended with the pride of martyrdom in the mothers’ broken hearts.

Many were killed on 28 January, which was dubbed the Friday of Anger, and one aim united them all:  “toppling the regime.”

“I am caught between being sad at losing my elder son and feeling happy for his being a martyr,” says Samia Saeed, the mother of Hussein Osama.

Despite his short life, Osama, who passed away at the age of 17, was the backbone of his family. “He dropped out of school early to help me cover the education expenses of his three little brothers,” continues Saeed.

She says her son took part in the revolution from the first day, 25 January, but she wasn’t aware of his participation at that time.

“He hid the truth about joining the demonstrations because he knew I would prevent him from going because of my worry about him,” she said.

On 28 January at 5PM, Saeed heard from her neighbors that there was an angry protest and live fire from police in front of the Marg police station, and that her son was involved. She ran down the stairs hoping to reach the scene quickly and take him back home, but it was too late.

“I found him lying down on the floor dead with a bullet wound in the back of his head,” recalls Saeed.

She is silent for a moment. Then she continues, shaking her head: “I know that being a mother of martyr is something everyone must be proud of, but nothing can replace his absence.”

The grief is palpable as Saeed tries hard to steady her voice. “It is a feeling that cannot be described in words. There will never be true happiness in my life, because a part of me is missing,” she concludes.

Samia Ibrahim, another martyr’s mother, has turned to religion to help relieve her grief at losing her son Ahmed Said Hammad. “When I feel that my heart aches. I read the Quran; it is also my only consolation now,” she says.

Also on the Friday of Anger, violent clashes broke out between police and protesters beside Alexandria’s al-Raml police station. Police opened fire randomly on protesters, killing 35 people, one of them Hammad.

Hammad’s mother, along with other martyrs’ families, filed reports against Wael al-Komy, the head of the investigation department at al-Raml police station, and who was in charge at the time of the tragic accident.

Ibrahim says that al-Komy was arrested for almost two months and then released. She is still waiting for his trial, which has been postponed.

“Al-Komy’s wife has offered big compensation to martyrs’ families in return for closing the case,” she says. “I categorically refused the compensation because no amount of money can replace my dear son.”

Ibrahim describes her martyred son as a very peaceful man who did not belong to any political party; all he wanted was to do something for his country.

“He used to tell me when he was young that he wanted to leave his mark on the world. I believe that God responded to his prayer,” says the mother before breaking down. She declines to say more.

Thirty-two-year-old Tarek Abdel Rahman is the one martyr whose mother has been more affected politically. “I feel that he achieved justice,” says his mother, Samia Mohamed al-Sayyed, when asked about her feelings. Though her son was shot dead, al-Sayyed believes that he took revenge on the old regime by sacrificing his life. “If it were not for my son and other martyrs, the corrupt officials wouldn’t be now in jail.”

She adds that her son used to work as a waiter the entire day in order to support himself. Abdel Rahman became the head of the family after his parents separated, but his scarce income was hardly met the needs of his mother and two sisters.

“He did not have any money to get married. He was living in a downward spiral,” she says, adding that her monthly pension has been halted since the beginning of this year for no apparent reason.

The dire financial situation of Abdel Rahman’s family pushed him to join the massive protests on the Friday of Anger in an effort to regain his fundamental right of living in dignity. Learning of the national uprising on 28 January, Tarek took to the streets with a large group of residents from his neighborhood. However, on his way to Tahrir Square, he was killed by police gunfire.

“I am proud of my son,” says his mother confidently. “At least he did not die for nothing.”

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