Egypt’s Sisi to rename Rabaa Square after slain Barakat

President to name square where at least 800 Brotherhood supporters were killed by army in 2013 after state prosecutor.

Sisi attended the funeral of Barakat, who oversaw the prosecution of thousands of activists and opposition leaders [AP]

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has announced he is renaming Rabaa Square after the recently assassinated Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat.

At least 800 Muslim Brotherhood supporters were killed by the military in the square after the army seized power in 2013.

Sisi also said he would push for new laws as part of a crackdown that would deliver “swift justice” against armed groups, following the prosecutor general’s killing on Monday.

Speaking at the funeral of Barakat, who oversaw the prosecution of thousands of activists and opposition leaders, Sisi said on Tuesday that “the hands of justice are chained” in the face of “terrorism”.

“We will not wait. Within days, criminal laws that can help face new developments such as terrorism should be presented,” he said.

“We face terrorism and we need the right laws and courts to deal with it and to try the killers.”

In a thinly veiled reference to jailed leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sisi blamed the violence on those “issuing orders from behind bars,” and warned, “If there is a death sentence, it will be carried out.”

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Sisi’s comments raise the prospect of an even tougher campaign against the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, and other opponents, after a two-year-old crackdown that has already seen courts issuing mass death sentences against the opposition, including ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

Human rights groups already say judges are ignoring due process and accuse police of greater abuses.

On Tuesday, an Amnesty International report said that Egypt has swung from “mass protest to mass incarceration”.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Abdullah Al Arian, an assistant professor at Georgetown University, said that Sisi’s decision would only lead to a “a far worse, and far more violent” confrontation with the opposition. 

“This is not any responsible state should ever behave once it is subjected to these kinds of attacks,” he said, calling on Sisi to reach a “political settlement” with the opposition. 

Breach in security

The high-profile assassination of Barakat, in an upscale Cairo neighbourhood, is a major embarrassment to Sisi, who vowed to bring stability to the country when he came to power, following the overthrow of Morsi in 2013.

The July 3 ousting came after mass protests against Morsi that began two years ago on Tuesday.

The Brotherhood has been declared a terrorist group and accused of fueling an insurgency by armed groups who have stepped up a campaign of violence.

The Brotherhood denies the claim, accusing the government of trying to justify its crackdown on the group.

On Monday, the Brotherhood condemned the killing of Barakat as “unacceptable,” adding that Sisi’s government is “fully responsible” for the violence in the country.

Morsi and several other top Brotherhood leaders have been sentenced to death but they still can appeal the sentences.

At Barakat’s funeral, Sisi led a procession of hundreds of state officials and military personnel who walked in unison as wreaths were laid.

Pro-government media hailed Barakat as a “hero” and “martyr.”

Meanwhile, violence continued even as Egypt buried Barakat.

Two explosive devices detonated inside a private car in greater Cairo’s 6 October city, killing three people inside the car next to a shopping centre and a police station, according to health ministry spokesman Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar.

Egyptian security sources also said a number of people have been injured in an armed attack on a police checkpoint east of Alexandria, north of Egypt.

In the northern Sinai city of Sheikh Zuweyid, a mortar shell fired at an army position fell on a private residence, killing two children and wounding three others, family members said.

In the city of Beni Suef, along the Nile River south of Cairo, security officials said gunmen opened fire on a police car, killing a sergeant and wounding four others.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies