Sabbagh was 31, and lived in Alexandria with her five-year-old son, Bilal, nicknamed "Bebo." She was a member of the leftist Socialist People's Alliance Party (SPAP) — organizers of the demonstration at which she died — and a tireless participant in politics and public work. Friends describe her providing what assistance she could for some of the most vulnerable members of society: workers, slum-dwellers and street kids.She studied public folklore and was working on documenting the traditions of small Nile valley villages. A well-known poet too, Sabbagh wrote often about daily life and politics. It wasn't always serious; a colleague recalls through a mixture of tears and laughter that she once penned some verses about breadsticks, even though she didn't eat much.Those who knew Sabbagh say she was a calm and conciliatory person, a constant source of support, despite instability in her own life. She was optimistic too, convinced that Egypt would soon move beyond its recent sad history.Above all, friends say, she was a loyal mother, devoted to Bilal — a smart boy who she raised to know his rights and responsibilities, and worked hard to put in a good school. At the time of writing, he's staying with a family friend and does not yet know his mother is dead.
'We know that freedom is expensive, but now we ask ourselves if it is as expensive as Shaimaa's blood, and we are not sure about that.'
Six were arrested as Sabbagh died: Fahmi, Ela, Abdul-Ail, Nasr, Nassar and Salah. Nasr, the first to be arrested says that he was beaten after being taken to an armored vehicle. Fahmi, second to be seized, says that he too was physically abused as he was taken away, even though he insisted he wasn't resisting. He describes being thrown at officers' feet in the same armored vehicle as Nasr.
'I sympathize with Shaimaa so much and the picture I took… the way she was… it became a ghost haunting me all the time.'
It is virtually certain that a member of the security forces shot Sabbagh. Numerous eyewitnesses describe the same masked man raising and firing his weapon in her direction before she collapsed to the ground, and the same scene is also seen in video footage. Moreover, the forensics report says the birdshot found in her body was fired from no more than eight meters away, allowing little other possibility.Even Sisi took the almost unprecedented step of hinting that a member of the police might be responsible during a speech in which he described Sabbagh as his "daughter", although added that the reputation of an entire institution should not be tarnished by the actions of an individual. Authorities have now opened an investigation into the killing.
'The investigation neglected those with actual weapons and went with illusionist tricks.'