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Activists and artists to paint protest murals on SCAF walls Friday

Artists, activists and locals protest military construction of walls in downtown Cairo by painting streets on the concrete barriers during anniversary events for last year's 9 March military attack on a Tahrir Square sit-in

Ahram Online, Tuesday 6 Mar 2012
main walls
Photo: Rowan El Shimi

A Facebook campaign, spearheaded by local inhabitants, activists and artists, is urging the Egyptian public on Friday to protest downtown Cairo's military barricades by painting murals on them. Aside from demonstrating against the walls, which were recently erected by Egypt's security forces, the 9 March will mark the anniversary of the brutal army attack on a Tahrir Square sit-in that saw many protesters detained, sexually assaulted and tortured in the nearby Egyptian museum. 

"We didn’t have a revolution so we could live among walls meant to keep the people in power safe," local resident and Egyptian filmmaker Salma El-Tarzi, 33, wrote in the Facebook appeal, "We are seven groups, which will paint an open street on each wall. Come paint with us."

The Facebook event goes on to invite members of the public to bring painting supplies, chant political slogans, or do whatever they see fit.

A number of well-known graffiti artists have been invited to lead the art campaign. Those attending include "El-Moshir" a young graphic designer and stencil graffiti artist, who headed up the Noon El-Niswah (the Arabic grammatical reference to the feminine form) feminist graffiti campaign and designed many of the well-known revolutionary stickers.  

Hossam Shukrallah, a stencil artist, will also join. He created the Khalid Said graffiti on the Ministry of Interior building June last year. Said’s mouth was replaced with verses from the late Amal Donqol's poem La Tosaleh (Do Not Reconcile) written in protest of the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement.

"Ammar" who contributed to the elaborate murals currently lining Mohamed Mahmoud Street and  "Zeft" whose rainbow piece already on one of the separation walls and will be added to as well on the day will participate as well.

The walls, which surround both the interior ministry and the parliament building, were built over several months between November 2011 and February 2012, following a series of clashes between protestors and Egypt’s security forces.

The first wall to go up on Mohamed Mahmoud Street was dismantled by the public in February.

 "This is only one of several events going on during the 9 March anniversary," explained El-Tarzi to Ahram Online.

There will be a painting workshop “Let’s Paint Freedom” in front of the American University in Cairo library on Mohamed Mahmoud Street. In addition the political group Masry Hor (Free Egyptian) are organising a flash-mob by the Egyptian Museum. There will also be video screenings by Tahrir Cinema, an iniative organisted by media collective Mosireen who screen footage from the ongoing revolution on the square. 

 "No To Military Trials for Civilians campaign have organised a march from Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque which will pass by the walls," El-Tarzi added, “We want to deliver a message that you can build all the walls you want and this won’t make us stop."

The wall-painting event is scheduled to take place on Friday 9 March at 1pm in front of each of the seven remaining walls on Qasr El-Aini Street, Sheikh Rihan Street, Mansour Street, Nubar Street, Falaky Street, Fahmy Street and Youssef El-Guindy Street. All of the concrete barricades are located adjacent to Tahrir Square in Cairo’s downtown district.

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