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Martyrs and TrickstersAn Ethnography of the Egyptian Revolution$
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Walter Armbrust

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691162645

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691162645.001.0001

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The Martyrological Frame

The Martyrological Frame

Chapter:
(p.53) Chapter 3 The Martyrological Frame
Source:
Martyrs and Tricksters
Author(s):

Walter Armbrust

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691162645.003.0004

This chapter examines how the history of martyrdom inscribed in and around Tahrir Square constitutes one frame for the political performances that were the idioms of revolution. Martyrs are very common in commemoration, though not necessarily iconic in the sense that they inspire veneration or attract the eye. However, it would be a mistake to dismiss the cumulative weight of commemoration as irrelevant to the political performances that took place in 2011 and its aftermath. The revolutionary political alternative, ideologically diverse, was enacted on a stage composed partly of a much less ambivalent commemorative martyrological history that could always potentially be mobilized against it. And it was mobilized with a vengeance in overthrowing Muhammad Morsy in the summer of 2013. On July 26, ʻAbd al-Fattah al-Sisi openly called for a popular tafwid (mandate) to “fight terrorism,” making an open accession to rule—ratified later by a patently fixed election—inevitable. Tens of thousands of the people thronging Tahrir Square and its surrounding streets on July 26 carried posters of al-Sisi in that demonstration. It should be emphasized that even though al-Sisi was backed by powerful individuals and institutions, and even though his emergence on the political scene indisputably drew all eyes toward him and inspired genuine veneration, his icon-hood was provisional, which is to say that it was inherently unstable.

Keywords:   martyrdom, Tahrir Square, political performances, revolution, martyrs, commemoration, Muhammad Morsy, ʻAbd al-Fattah al-Sisi, icon-hood

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