“Down, down with the military government. Revolution in every street,” hundreds of protesters chanted at the vigil. “Oh Mina, oh martyr, another revolution all over again.”
Irritated drivers who just wanted to get on with their business honked angrily, a noisy reminder that the protesters were still in the minority. A recent poll by the International Peace Institute found that 53 percent of Egyptians think continued protests are unnecessary.
But the protesters who sparked the January revolution began as a minority as well.
Mourning a loss
Daniel, raised in a poor Coptic family in southern Cairo, was moved to activism after a drive-by shooting in 2010 that killed six Christians and a Muslim. He began to advocate for minority rights, then for the poor, and democratic socialism. When the demonstrations flared up in Cairo’s Tahrir Square at the end of January, Daniel became a leading figure in the youth Freedom and Justice movement and developed a reputation as a bridge between Muslims and Christians.
At Daniel’s apartment , his mother, Nadia Feltes, 55, swathed in black, received guests paying their condolences. His two sisters wore mass-produced black T-shirts with his face on them and scanned the Internet for new Youtube videos and posts about their brother on social media sites.
In Daniel’s bedroom, a crucifix lay on his bed with the figure of Jesus splayed on top. Someone had taped a poster of Daniel above the bed with the word “martyr” emblazoned beneath his portrait. The notes his sisters used to scrawl on his walls, urging him to eat and to get enough sleep were still there.
When Daniel’s sister, Mary, found him lying on the hospital floor, wrapped in a blanket, he was already dead. She insisted on viewing the body and saw the fresh bullet wound in his chest. When her mother arrived she did the same, demanding an autopsy report for her son.
“I wanted to see him one more time,” Nadia said. “I needed to know how he died.
Still denying a role in the killings, the military council last week issued a decree banning discrimination against minorities, making it a crime punishable by jail time. But Daniel’s family and friends believe the new law is a cynical attempt to deflect blame.
“They issue this law and they are the perpetrators of bigotry,” a neighbor said.
As Daniel lay dying on the street, his friend Tony Sabry, 19, held him.
Daniel said he wanted his body to be “celebrated in Tahrir Square,” he told Sabry, just as some of the nearly 900 killed in the revolution were paraded through the center of the uprising.
Last week he got his wish.
“We will have an even greater revolution now,” Mary said. “The young people are so angry, there is no reform. Egypt is on the edge of an abyss. One step and we fall into nothingness.”