Far Outside Cairo: A Graffiti Campaign to Denounce the SCAF

This week a group of students from Mansoura, a city two hours north of Cairo in the Daqahliyya governorate, decided they wanted to respond to recent military brutality against demonstrators in the capital. Over the past week, and independent of any political movement or organization, the group launched an awareness campaign involving a barrage of anti-SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) graffiti.

Eric Knecht, “My people, and I am free to make pee pee on them.” April 22, 2013.
Eric Knecht, April 22, 2013.

As one of the organizers explained, it is not the first time that political graffiti has been sprayed around Mansoura, but it is likely the first time that it has been done on such a large scale, organized fashion.

Eric Knecht, April 22, 2013.

Above, one of the organizers looks over a tag just after it is completed. The text reads “My people, and I am free to make pee pee on them” with a soldier zipping his fly, a replica of one of the several images that have gone viral over the past week.

Below, on a pillar inside Mansoura University’s campus, a drug user is depicted with the text “addicted to freedom.”

Eric Knecht, April 22, 2013 via .

The same tag appears in several places throughout Mansoura University’s campus.Below is another example, carefully placed between older paint that reads “down with military rule.”

Eric Knecht, April 22, 2013.

Beyond these more creative tags, there is also the more straightforward. Below, one such piece simply proclaims “NO SCAF” (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces):

Eric Knecht, April 22, 2013.

But graffiti was not the only thing the campaign had in mind. As one organizer explained, part of raising awareness about violence in Cairo involves dispelling ongoing rumors and conspiracy theories – some of which go as far as blaming activists and foreign elements of provoking, and even elaborately staging, much of the military abuse. To this end, a projector accompanied by a compilation of video clips was brought to various locations for anyone willing to endure a stream of violent attacks on demonstrators.

Eric Knecht, April 22, 2013.

At the city’s municipal center, the graffiti campaign continued. Below, students make their mark directly on the government building.

Eric Knecht, April 22, 2013.

Meanwhile, in front of the same building, a small press conference is held, attended by several Mansoura political groups. A statement is read denouncing the military’s violence and announcing the various groups’ participation in a Friday demonstration against the military council. Below, a banner held at the press conference displays several recent images from Cairo, the most prominent of which is the now infamous image of the girl in the blue bra accompanied by the word “Liars,” as published on the front cover of Tahrir News just a few days earlier. The text on the top of the banner reads “What are you waiting for? For this to happen to your sister?”

Eric Knecht, April 22, 2013.

Elsewhere on the municipal building, an image of the late Ahmed Zaki, an iconic Egyptian actor, stares down the SCAF with the message “We will get our revenge, military council.”

Eric Knecht, April 22, 2013.

Interestingly, the police, seen below, do not seem to mind the surrounding graffiti ‘assault’ on their city’s property.

Eric Knecht, April 22, 2013.

As the students continue tagging various places in Mansoura, with relatively little resistance, an increasing number of people want to help out. Below, a member of the Youth of the Square Movement admires one of the stencils.

Eric Knecht, April 22, 2013.

On Thursday morning, the campaign, in its third day, is excited to use a new stencil that was emailed in from a friend in Mit Ghamr, a small city also located in the Daqahliyya governorate. Below, the stencil is carefully cut out with a box knife.

Eric Knecht, April 22, 2013.

And this is what it looks like when it is sprayed out.

Eric Knecht, April 22, 2013.

The graffiti, a silhouette of the woman in the blue bra being dragged by the military, reads “Would you accept this for your mother?? Would you accept this for your sister??”

Below, a piece of graffiti surrounded by campaign flyers reminds us that all of this comes in the context of ongoing parliamentary elections; Mansoura will be voting on 3 and 4 January. (Click here for a photo essay on electoral campaigning in Mansoura)

Eric Knecht, April 22, 2013.

After a long three days, a few organizers from the campaign take a break, sitting above one of their tags outside the School of Medicine at Mansoura Univeristy.

Eric Knecht, April 22, 2013.