Egyptian authorities remove Mohamed Mahmoud's revolutionary graffiti

Osman El-Sharnoubi, Wednesday 19 Sep 2012

The repeated removal of political graffiti from walls of downtown Cairo's streets sparks anger and defiance among fans and artists of popular art form

Graffiti painted after the removal of murals previously covering the walls of Mohamed Mahmoud street in downtown Cairo, Wednesday, (Photo: Lina El-Wardani).

Graffiti covering the walls of Cairo's iconic Mohamed Mahmoud Street off Tahrir Square was removed one again by Egyptian authorities on Wednesday.

The street, which has seen some of the most intense clashes between protesters and police since the start of last year's popular uprising, has become a premier venue for revolutionary-themed murals.

Spray-painted images of the revolution's martyrs, symbols and slogans as well as artistic paintings have continued to line the walls despite attempts by the authorities to white-wash the political artwork and messages.

The removal sparked angry comments on social networking sites, as people condemned the authorities for censoring the revolutionary landmark. Many posted pictures of the now-blank walls.

Egyptian journalist Mona El-Tahawi commented on Twitter that, "now police - [President] Morsi's police - erase graffiti & murals on Mohamed Mahmoud St. You can't whitewash a rotten history, Mr. Morsy!"

Ahdaf Soueif, an Egyptian best-selling author and cultural commentator, mourned the graffiti's removal as it came a day after she spoke about Egyptian street art at a cultural event in London.

"Yesterday I gave a talk about the Muhammad Mahmoud graffiti. Heartbreak when they start removing it today," she said on the micro-blogging site.

While some mourned, others promised to draw again and some even saw the state action as "normal."

Egyptian costume designer Maya Gowaily, who took one of the first initiatives to document post-revolution graffiti in the streets of Cairo, thinks it is only natural for street art to be erased.

"The idea of graffiti is that it is continuous, you repaint a wall once, twice, thrice," said Gowaily, adding that the removal is beneficial to the graffiti artists since it gives them another chance to paint.

"Walls become recycled canvases, otherwise there would be no walls to paint on eventually," Gowaily told Ahram Online.

Indeed, hours after the removal of the images, artists painted a new mural: a head sticking out its tongue, surrounded by words reading "erase more, cowardly regime."

Short link: