One year on, Ramadan Ibrahim, 11, still clearly remembers the sight of his mother's dead body lying on the floor of a makeshift field hospital at Cairo's Rabaa al-Adiwya square with blood streaming from the back of her head. Footage featuring Ibrahim's evocative shrieks begging for his mother to "wake up, for God's sake" as he wrestled with two men to reach her prone body made him a symbol of the bloody sit-in dispersal on August 14 of last year. On that day, hundreds were killed when Egyptian security forces cleared two major sit-ins – at Cairo's Rabaa Square and Giza's Nahda Square – staged by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. "I know I will meet her in a better place and she will be happy that I've done all she wanted me to do," Ibrahim, who now lives with his grandmother in Egypt's southern Beni Sueif province, told Anadolu Agency. "Now I'm just going to school and studying Quran," he added. Ibrahim's grandmother said he had wept every day in the first three months following his mother's death.
"Then the weeping turned into endless questions about Heba [his mother]: 'Why did she leave? Is it because I upset her? Where did she go? Will she come back if I promise to do well in fifth grade?'," the boy's grandmother recalled.
In his quest to find answers to questions his grandmother couldn't answer, Ibrahim searched for any mention of his mother on the internet.
"He read anything he could find on Rabaa through an iPad device his mother's friend brought him," his grandmother said. "Then he abandoned the iPad and started going to the mosque again."
Although Ibrahim insisted he was "okay" and "no longer sad," his grandmother said he continued to fall into recurrent spells of intense crying and screaming.
She has avoided the media since the footage went viral online amid an ongoing crackdown on dissent by Egypt's military-backed government.
"I thank God that we managed to bury her here in Beni Sueif," she tearfully said of her slain daughter, an orphanage worker who – judging by the footage – appeared to have sustained a fatal gunshot.
The Egyptian government has attempted to justify the Rabaa Square dispersal by saying that protesters – who took to the square to protest Morsi's July 3 ouster by the military – had assaulted opponents and disrupted the lives of neighborhood residents.
However, a yearlong investigation by New York-based Human Rights Watch, released earlier this week, largely refuted the government's account of events, accusing security forces of carrying out the "systematic and widespread killing" of at least 817 Morsi supporters in Rabaa Square.
"She had nothing to do with [Morsi's] Muslim Brotherhood, she just went to Rabaa to join friends," Ibrahim's grandmother said of her daughter.
She added: "I don't know why they [security forces] killed her; I don't even know if she will be counted among the martyrs [of Rabaa]."
"Mama is a martyr," Ibrahim, who marked the one-year anniversary of the fateful day with a visit to his mother's grave, chimed in. "She is with God now."