On Oct. 9, the 44th anniversary of Guevara’s death, Daniel was facing Egyptian security forces in downtown Cairo when he died like his hero, a bullet apparently fired by a soldier piercing his chest.
The death has given a name and a face to what activists describe as the second wind of a revolution. The target is the country’s military leadership, which assumed power after Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down and, in the ensuing months, has resorted to many of the loathed tactics of the police state Egyptians are trying to dismantle.
“Mina’s death is a way of exposing the lies of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces,” said Heba Morayef, an Egypt researcher at Human Rights Watch.
The military was cheered when it promised to help with the country’s transition to democracy. But, since then, they have faced heavy criticism for arresting and trying thousands of people in hasty military tribunals, using force to disperse protesters and censoring the media. Human rights advocates say the violent clash that took Daniel’s life and at least 24 others is final proof that the military leadership has hijacked the revolution.
Anger at military rule
The incident began when Daniel and hundreds of others took to the streets of the capital demanding protection for minority Coptic rights. The military leadership has publicly denied killing the unarmed protesters, insisting that any deaths were accidental or caused by others who sparked the violence. But chilling video of armored personnel carriers running over people and the fatal bullet wound to Daniel’s chest seem to indicate the opposite.
Recent polls showed that the military rulers had a more than 80 percent approval rating. But the deaths have swayed Egyptians who were on the fence about the military and hardened those who were already souring on military rule, analysts said.
At a vigil for those killed, some said they had come to call for the end of military rule only after seeing the images of the dead on television.
“I believe people were in a peaceful march and met with violence,” said Atef Shukri, a protester and Muslim movie director. “Before I was unsure about military rule and now I’m angry.”
Members of the Coptic community say they feel that they’re under a deeper threat than at any time in recent memory. A string of church attacks since the uprising has plagued them, instilling fear among Copts, who make up about 10 percent of the population. The recent clashes have also turned some Egyptians against Coptic Christians, after state television and other officials blamed them for the violence and deepened the historic sectarian divide.