Even though anti-government protests have, for the moment, tapered in Egypt, the capital Cairo remains dissected by military barricades. Forced to live in communities disjointed by massive walls, a group of street artists have armed themselves with brushes and paint in an effort to transform the oppressive symbols into works of art.
Egypt has been wracked with periodic outbursts of violence since the military took power in the wake of former President Hosni Mubarak’s downfall on February 11, 2011. Thousands of protesters returned to the capital’s now-symbolic Tahrir Square last November to demand the country’s interim military rulers finally transition to a civilian government. Egyptian security forces tried to crush the unrest with force, killing at least 41 people during five days of unrest
In response to the violence, Egyptian authorities ordered that a number of streets surrounding government buildings in downtown Cairo be sealed off. Huge, imposing concrete block walls were quickly erected to prevent protesters from accessing what for many had come to symbolise an obstacle to the revolution.
Refusing to allow themselves to be literally walled in by the authorities, activists and street artists invited Cairo’s residents last Friday to pick up a brush and paint images of beauty that might transcend the concrete barriers as part of the “No Wall” campaign.
Artists work on a mural designed to give the impression the wall does not exist.