Poem 111 (“Each man …”) from “The Energy of Slaves” by Leonard Cohen
Omar Offendum ~ #Syria
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Murals by artist and professor Alaa Awad on the wall outside of the American University in Cairo’s downtown campus on Mohammed Mahmoud Street.
From “500 words” on artforum.com - Alaa Awad discusses the murals he designed in collaboration with artists Ammar Abu Bakr and Hanaa El Deighem on Mohammed Mahmoud Street (as told to Claire Davies):
“I took a break from teaching and came to Tahrir Square earlier this month because of the February 1 massacre in Port Said that followed a football game. We started painting the mural that day. I have no plans to leave now, and so I keep working on it. The mural is a memorial to the shuhada [martyrs] who died in Port Said. The paints are cheap; we buy them with our own money. I painted the ancient Egyptian compositions, Ammar did the martyrs’ portraits, and Hanaa painted the decorative elements. It’s structured like a story: The work begins with scenes painted in an ancient Egyptian style of people bringing offerings to the ruler, who is depicted as a mouse. In the next scene we see the Mubarak family on trial for crimes against social equality and justice. Suzanne Mubarak is depicted with her suckling son, preparing him to take power. Then there’s a scene of a women’s march. It’s an image from the Ramesseum and dates to the time of Ramses II. The original is now mostly destroyed.
“We wanted to recognize the key role of the women whom we respect very much––like Madame Ghada Abdelkhalaq, Nawara Negm, and Alaa Mahfouz––in the struggle. Here you see women as the ancient Egyptians depicted them. They are climbing a ladder that symbolizes the revolution. They must break through where the ladder meets the sky. The women are nude; they are beautiful. They are not covering their bodies. We are Muslims but we don’t believe in the Wahhabi style of Islam that has been imported to Egypt. Egypt has a long, long history and its own traditions.
“The portraits of the martyrs are next. Here the women are mourning the deceased. They are carrying black flowers. There is the door of Osiris, which you pass through on your way to the land of the dead. At the funeral procession the women are wailing and smearing themselves with earth. This is a very old Egyptian tradition. The goddess of the sky, Nut, is rendered above, and the martyr’s soul is being welcomed into heaven with a lit candle.
“We just began work on another mural located on the same street. Ammar is painting portraits of those who died in the clashes on Mohamed Mahmoud Street and at Maspero last year. Many people come to look at them. Sometimes visitors write things on the mural or add small drawings or stencils. I don’t mind at all. The murals might disappear soon; we might find them covered up as soon as tomorrow. We’ll just paint them again.”
حمص القصور جمعة سننتفض لأجلك بابا عمرو 24-2-2012 ج1 (by Syrian2011X)
Homs. Syrians continue to dance and sing their revolution while Assad brutally assaults and murders them. I have to look away too often from the still and video images of blood and death and torture - but I cry every time I watch Syrians dance.
دمشق المزة مشهد مهيب في التشييع 18-2-2012 (by beautifullife902)
Thousands protest in Mezze, Damascus, during a snowstorm.
To apply for membership in the Syrian Writers Union and in solidarity with the Syrian people It is our honor, as Palestinian writers and signatories to this statement, to request as a group to be inducted into the Syrian Writers Union, which has been recently established by the free Syrian writers and intellectuals who stand with the people as they climb the ladder of freedom which has been smeared with blood by the hand of the tyrant. The establishment of the Syrian Writers Union constitutes an essential pillar of the Syrian revolution and places the true intellectual in his or her rightful place beside the people as an effective partner in building a new Syria free of dynastic authoritarianism–a diverse, democratic, civil system based on the rights of the citizen, one that embraces the rights of expression and creation, a system incapable of falsifying the free Syrian intellectual’s will through hollow structures that arrogate the potentials of culture, usurp the role of the intellectual and falsify his or her will, always a device in the hand of the tyrant and his apparatuses.
Now more than ever, Syria needs a mature voice that speaks from its very heart, a voice which strengthens national unity and derives strength from the diversity and richness of Syrian society […] [which will serve as] the basis for building a democracy.
We have recently heard a representative of the Syrian regime at the UN Security Council use the Palestinian cause and its painful and honorable course as cover for its terrifying crimes in Syria. We say to the Syrian regime and its representatives: not in our name, not in Palestine’s name, will these crimes be committed in our beloved Syria, oh killers. Do not make our just cause a mask for your inhumane crimes against our Syrian brothers and sisters. It is the Syrian people who have historically adopted our cause, and sacrificed martyrs for its sake, not your regime, of which we have painful memories. We will never forget its role in the massacre of Tel Az-Zaatar in 1976, nor in the terrible assault on the Nahr al Bared camp near Tripoli in 1983, nor the siege of the camps in Beirut in 1985, nor any of the other acts which have bitterly weakened Palestinian national unity. Do not use Palestine’s name, for it is no longer your winning card.
A unified, free and democratic Syria is what Palestine needs, and this is the Syria that is being born today from the womb of a bloody revolution ignited by a great people. We are confident that Palestine’s name will remain in the heart of this courageous, revolting people and its cultural elite.
Queen of girls
(Roughly translated phrase, but the meaning comes across). This is a graffito of a female protester wearing a mask to protect against tear gas on Mohammed Mahmoud Street in downtown Cairo.
Women have been pivotal participants and activists in protests and political activity since and before the uprising in Egypt began in January 2011. Here is great video report on the role of women in the anti-Supreme Council of Armed Forces protests in Tahrir Square from November 2010 by Bridgette Auger and Raphael Thelen.
Free Syria demonstration at Parliament House Canberra, Australia.
Egyptian protesters lift an obelisk with the names of those killed during last year’s uprising, at a huge rally in Tahrir Square on Jan. 25 marking the first anniversary of the uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak as a debate raged over whether the rally was a celebration or a second push for change. (Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images)
PEOPLE DEMAND THE REMOVAL OF THE REGIME
I took this picture in downtown Cairo this past summer. “People demand the removal of the regime” is the English translation of one of the most popular chants of the Arab Spring.
I believe the portraits in the middle of the wall (behind the tree) are of some of the martyrs of the revolution. To the right of the portraits is the quote “Heroes all… we must never forget.” I’ve seen a number of portraits of those killed in clashes during and since the January 25 uprising around Cairo.
(photo credit: Eric Knecht)
Freedom for Alaa Abdel Fattah
I took this photo a few months ago; this drawing of Alaa Abdel Fattah is on a wall on Mohammed Mahmoud Street. Alaa Abdel Fattah was released from jail on December 25. He was accused of inciting violence at the Maspero protests in October.
“We cannot just celebrate my innocence,” Alaa said during his release. “We know from the beginning I am not the one who killed people. We have not gone after the real criminals who killed people.”
I cried tears of joy when Alaa Abdel Fattah was released, but we must remember Maikel Nabil and the thousands of others still imprisoned. When the news was announced half my timeline on Twitter sung Alaa over and over; a song of hope for the freedom of all political prisoners.