Tahrir Graffiti

Hello again class! I apologize for the delay in a new post. This past week was midterms so I had to give all my focus to studying Arabic. I will make it up to all of you in the next couple weeks.

Perhaps you’ve noticed in my videos that there is quite a bit of graffiti here. Like all cities (and most towns) painting on public walls has always existed in Cairo. However, since the revolution in early 2011, graffiti has sprung up everywhere as a symbol of protest and resisting the authorities. Nowhere is this more true than in Tahrir Square, the heart of Cairo and the most recent revolution. It has become famous enough to have a name and a Wikipedia article: Mohamed Mahmoud Graffiti.

The Arab Spring was (or is, depending on who you talk to) a series of revolutions that swept through North Africa and the Middle East. It began in Tunisia and quickly spread east. So far, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya have had a change in leadership as a result of the revolutions. Syria is currently in a violent civil war as a result of the Arab Spring and may soon be added to the above list.

The revolution in Egypt, on the other hand, has been incredibly peaceful. As a result, a great deal of art has been created, the most visible of which is the wall of graffiti next to Tahrir Square on Mohamed Mahmoud street.

The wall features a huge range of styles

The graffiti on the walls goes between memorials for killed protestors and cartoony mockeries of the authorities, both former and current.

Two young martyrs

The former head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces

There are also occasional references to American culture, like this one featuring Batman. However, I haven’t been able to figure out who Batman is threatening. He is saying “Don’t delete our graffiti again, you son of a gun.”

Batman is referencing the repeated white washing of the Mohamed Mahmoud graffiti, one of which took place about a month ago. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of the wall before. One of the more famous images from the wall before it was painted over was a face combining Hosni Mubarak, the former dictator, and the leader of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Mohamed Tantawi. The graffiti artist was trying to say there is no difference between Mubarak, the dictator, and Tantawi, who took power when the protestors forced Mubarak out.

Before the wall was painted over.

After the wall was painted again on September 18th, a new version of the graffiti above emerged. What is especially interesting is that the new image includes more current political events, and adds the face of Mohamed Morsi, the new president of Egypt. The graffiti continues to grow and reflect the revolution as it changes, too.



2 thoughts on “Tahrir Graffiti

  1. Ms Burgoine

    Hi Seth,
    We really enjoyed your post on graffiti in Tahrir Square. The students were especially surprised to see Batman! They think that the opposing person is Joker because of the green hair, so I suggested that maybe it’s a government official the graffiti artsts oppose (the one responsible for whitewashing the graffiti?), and they painted that official with Joker’s hair as a way to mock him.
    More posts to come soon!
    Ms. Burgoine and students……….

  2. Ms Burgoine

    Hi again Seth,
    Last week, students responded to the Tahrir Graffiti post by sketching some graffiti, heiroglyphics, and protest art themselves. I took pictures and will attempt to post them.


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