A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Return to Mohamed Mahmoud

Mohamed Mahmoud Street, which runs from Tahrir Square past the American University in Cairo and on in the direction of Egypt's Interior Ministry, became a major battlefield a year ago during the violence of November and December; it as there that journalist Mona ElTahawy was arrested, abused and had her arms broken, though she was merely the best-known and most outspoken of the victims. Later the street became known for its graffiti street murals.  As I noted at the time, I had lived in the late 1970s on the corner of Mohamed Mahmoud and Yusuf al-Gindi Streets, at the heart of the battlefield.

Yesterday and today, demonstrators returned to the street to mark the first anniversary of the battle; what was intended as a memorial protest became politicized and clashes are continuing into a second night. Last year the anger was clearly aimed at the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces; this year the target is more diffuse, though President Morsi, justice for last year's victims, and the police all seem to have their opponents. Zeinobia reports from the scene, and found young people with little clear motivation confronting police. One April 6 Movement activist has been critically injured and may not recover.

This year's violence seems much less focused than last year's; its goals less clear and its motivations more muddied.  Perhaps a bit like those of the Revolution itself.

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