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Egypt

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‘Our cameras are our weapons. They are the reason the revolution will succeed.’

New documentary film The Square centers on Cairo’s Tahrir Square and follows the ‘thorny path to democracy [that] only began with Hosni Mubarak’s fall.’ It also just won the Tim Hetherington Award at the Sheffield Doc/Fest.

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A huge, colorful mural of the men Egyptian youth activists know as “felool”—regime remnants—adorns a building’s wall on Mohamed Mahmoud Street in downtown Cairo. Branching off of the now iconic Tahrir Square, Mohamed Mahmoud leads to the dreaded Interior Ministry. A number of bloody clashes between protesters and Egyptian security forces have taken place here in the year and a half since a popular uprising ended the 30-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak and launched the Arab world’s largest country into a tumultuous transition. To Egypt’s budding generation of revolutionary street artists, these walls are prime real estate for political expression.

Omar Fathi, the 26-year-old art student, who painted the mural with a set of cheap plastic paints last February, conceived of the idea after a deadly soccer riot had led to another series of clashes between police and protesters, leaving more than 80 people dead. Like much of his art, it was an image borne of frustration. Many of the youth protesters had blamed the ruling military and the police forces under its command for the deadly soccer riot and the ensuing violence as anger spread to the streets. To Fathi, it was further evidence of the state’s failure to govern and protect—something he had grown accustomed to under Mubarak, but that he and other youth activists and members of his “Revolution Artists’ Union” say has only continued under military rule. “Basically it represents the situation we are in, nothing has changed since the fall of the regime,” he says. “It’s the same leadership—the face has changed, but the rest is still the same.”

The mural depicts a split face—on the right, the scowling visage of ousted President Hosni Mubarak; and on the left, the man he once appointed to run his military, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. As the head of Egypt’s powerful military council, Tantawi has been Egypt’s de facto ruler since Mubarak stepped down in February 2011.

Shortly after Fathi painted his masterpiece, someone—he suspects from the military —painted over it. To spite them, he painted it again. When it was painted over a second time, he re-painted it a third, this time adding the faces of two presidential candidates, Amr Moussa, and Ahmed Shafik. Both men had served in Mubarak’s regime. And the run-off to the presidential election this month pit Ahmed Shafik against a candidate from the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, in a tense face-off that some activists characterized as a battle between the old order and the new; the military regime versus the revolution. In the end, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsy won. But Tantawi and his military council have ensured that Morsy only wields certain presidential powers; the military controls the rest. And Fathi says he’ll keep painting. “Our contribution [to the revolution] is to portray the demands of the revolution through art. This has been our role since the eighteen days [of the uprising],” he says. “We serve the revolution through art, and we will keep illustrating our demands.”

Sharaf al-Hourani is a news assistant for TIME Magazine in Cairo
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It’s been a restless month for politics in Egypt, where longtime president Hosni Mubarak was ousted from office during the Arab Spring last February. On June 14, just days before the country’s first democratic presidential elections, the Supreme Constitutional Court dissolved Egypt’s Islamist-majority parliament. The elections themselves were further marred by confusion when election officials delayed the announcement of a winner, saying they needed more time to investigate charges of electoral abuse.

Since the vote last weekend, supporters of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsy have been gathering daily in Tahrir Square. On Sunday, an official announcement declared Morsy the winner and the tension that had been brewing in the crowds all week quickly transformed into euphoria.

Photographer Daniel Berehulak documented the activity in Cairo in both the lead-up to the announcement and the ensuing celebrations. He described the frustration he observed while the public anxiously awaited an outcome, saying, “There was anger in the street, people were arguing on corners.”

As the results were announced on Sunday crowds packed into Tahrir, spilling out onto surrounding bridges. “People were jammed,” said Berehulak. “They were lining up to get into Tahrir to get a piece of it, to get a taste of freedom and a resolution to the revolution.”

Elated Morsy supporters set off fireworks and flares and the roar of trumpets and chants filled the air. Overwhelmed by both emotion and sweltering heat, several members of the crowd fainted and had to be carried to nearby ambulances.

Taking photographs was a challenge for Berehulak who struggled to find enough space to hold his camera up in the dense and excited crowd. “They were just embracing us,” he says. “It was so overwhelming, but it was so beautiful.”

Daniel Berehulak is a photographer based in New Delhi. See more of his work here.

Read more about Mohamed Morsy’s election on TIME.com.

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Egypt recently carried out its first democratic presidential election in the country’s history. But five days after the vote, the question of who won remains a matter of contention. The contest pitted a former military man who had served in the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak against a leader of the regime’s longtime foes, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Most observers believe the most votes went to Mohamed Morsy, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). The party claims a 1.2 million vote lead over Ahmed Shafik, the former military man and Mubarak prime minister. Shafik, however, says he has 500,000 more votes than Morsy. And with the official results still pending, the tension is rising as Egyptians wait to find out which candidate—if any—is telling the truth.

The presence of Egypt’s decidedly undemocratic military in its fledgling democratic process has only added to the atmosphere of uncertainty. Shortly after the polls closed on Sunday night, the junta, which has ruled Egypt since Mubarak stepped down, issued a decree that served to dramatically limit the powers of the incoming president. Just a few days before, the country’s constitutional court had moved to dissolve Egypt’s first democratically elected parliament—which had been dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. And analysts say this latest decree seems tailor made to limit the impact of a Brotherhood win at the polls.

The Islamists have reacted to the pressure with a show of popular force; taking to Cairo’s Tahrir Square every night since, as the country awaits the electoral outcome. So far, the demonstrations have been largely symbolic. But they could turn violent if Shafik is declared the winner—an outcome that the Islamists have already said would be the product of electoral fraud.

Abigail Hauslohner is TIME’s Cairo correspondent.

Yuri Kozyrev is a contract photographer for TIME and was named the 2011 Photographer of the Year in the Pictures of the Year International competition.

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Giza 3D

It's not terribly convenient for most of us to grab a flight to Egypt and visit the great pyramids of Giza, but a new project is attempting to bring an in-depth recreation right into your home in glorious 3D. A collaboration between software design firm Dassault Systèmes, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and Harvard University has yielded Giza 3D, a site hosting an in-depth 3D model of the pyramids that was recreated based on rigorous scholarly data. Back in the first half of the 20th century, archeologist George Reisner spent a good portion of his life researching and excavating the Giza pyramids as part of a Harvard University / MFA expedition. The MFA then spent the last decade or so digitizing documents from the expeditoin, which...

Continue reading…

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Gone are the accolades of heroism and courage that just one year ago greeted Egypt’s so-called “Facebook youth” when they led the popular uprising against the authoritarian regime of President Hosni Mubarak. Of that emotional and miraculous 18-day revolt, many proud Egyptians say the youth succeeded where decades of repressed and compromised opposition parties had not.

But 12 months later, Tahrir Square is a ravaged and frustrated version of its former self. Egypt’s youth movement is struggling to keep the revolution going, challenging the ruling military council the only way they know how—through protest. But with the country’s economy and stability sliding further into turmoil, the youth heroes of yesterday are failing to win the hearts and minds of the Egyptian majority today. Instead, many say they’re desperate to move on from the square.

Abigail Hauslohner is TIME’s Cairo correspondent. Find her on Twitter @ahauslohner.

Dominic Nahr is a contract photographer for TIME, represented by Magnum Photos. You can see more of his work from the Egyptian revolution here

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