I was in Cairo last week photographing the graffiti from the revolution (and subsequent battles) that covers the walls in the vicinity of Tahrir. By far the most magnificent was the long mural that ran down the south side of Mohamed Mahmoud Street from Tahrir to the AUC entrance, which was as much an artistic achievement as a political statement. Not everything was so beautiful: the walls on the southern end of Talaat Harb Street looked trashed and the graffiti on the Mugamma reflected an anger and frustration that could be heard when talking to the people camped out in tents in front of it. But Mohamed Mahmoud Street was the site of many of the most intense fighting in the year after the revolution — the Ministry of Interior’s Lazoghli headquarters are not far away — and the mural was both a loving memorial to the martyrs and a broad creative collaboration, as artists layered work on top of each other to produce something more rich and textured than any one of them could have done on their own.
I worried about how long they would allow all this street art to remain up since in so many other ways the revolutionary spirit has been leeched from Egyptian political life. Well, two weeks is the answer, as it turns out. Today, this tweet from Sharif Kouddous announced that they have destroyed the Mohamed Mahmoud mural:
Approx 150 at Mohamed Mahmoud st. to re-graffiti wall that was painted over yesterday. 8 CSF trucks w/ troops look on twitter.com/sharifkouddous…
— Sharif Kouddous (@sharifkouddous) September 19, 2012
This is a loss in so many ways and I can only admire the 150 back at Mohamed Mahmoud vowing to re-do the wall. So, I hope this helps cause — below are the photographs I took of that mural, every inch of it, on 3 September. The series starts at Tahrir, where the famous Tantawi/Mubarak face was on an angled corner, and runs west to the AUC gate — you can click to enlarge and scroll through as a slideshow.
[Or click here for a later update on this story, with video of the destruction and coverage in the New York Times.]