On whitening Egypt's walls, time and again

Mona Abaza, Monday 21 May 2012

After the administration of the American University in Cairo vowed to keep the murals on its Tahrir campus walls, the government paints over part of them

Painted-over graffiti

The obsession with whitening walls persists all over the city. On 21 May, as I was, by coincidence, or perhaps by ritual, passing in front of the murals of Mohammed Mahmoud Street, I found out that some officials of the city governorate have vehemently started to paint over the mural on the exterior wall of the American University in Cairo (AUC) facing Tahrir, which was painted by artist Alaa Awad.

By the time AUC security found out about it, the entire mural facing Tahrir and a bit of the one in Mohammed Mahmoud Street, which was painted only last week, had vanished away under thick white paint. It is thanks to AUC security that they managed to stop the workers from destroying the rest of the wonderful mural.

The workers sent by the government justified their act by stating that they were only interested in erasing the insults against the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF). What they targeted though, apart from Awad´s wonderful mural, was the half-Mubarak, half-Tantawi portrait and the most recent drawing of a faceless SCAF uniform holding puppets by their strings. Perhaps they thought to start from the side of Tahrir so that they would be unnoticed by AUC security.

The murals and graffiti had been fixed by AUC administration last month, by repainting the drawings with a protective layer. But it seems that it is so easy to repaint in white and make everything vanish away.

The incident was immediately announced on Facebook. By afternoon, the square was already filled with numerous photographers and graffiti-hunters, who were already filming the next round of dissenting painting, which will for sure concentrate on the theme of the SCAF.


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