A call to tear down the Qasr ElEini wall – a street blockade by state forces made of cement blocks – is fulfilled today. Much as I wanted and had planned to, I couldn’t be there, but here’s the story of a people bringing down a wall through their city.
The wall in Qasr ElEini Street is one of eight erected by state forces across various city center streets, main arteries of Cairo, over three episodes of violent clashes with protestors and demonstrators. This is a post about my experience of walled-in Cairo, I ended it wondering “how long our inconvenience and physical oppression by these occupying walls will take before it causes us to rise up and reclaim what is ours as citizens: our city, our streets, our spaces.”. Sure enough, the start of this week saw a call on Facebook to tear down the Qasr ElEini wall, and I was stoked.
Tearing down the wall is to me an instance of action, revolutionary if you will, that is not grey: despite coinciding with a sit-in started by the Ultras Ahlawy – who are decrying the Port Said Massacre, objecting the penalties on ElMasry Club and its scapegoating, and demanding accountability and punishment for those responsible for the death of 74 (according to official statements) of its members – and who, to avoid any potential clashes with security forces dissociated themselves from the initiative, and despite the never absent risk of clashes between security forces and the demonstrators, this action, to me, is pure from any what-ifs or buts or calculative “reasoning”, this is the action of oppressed citizens rising up to physically, in the most material sense of the word, reclaim their space and free themselves from a constraint to their mobility imposed on them by their state.
After the wall was partially torn down, there were indeed some sporadic fear-mongering accounts on twitter of security preparations and teargas; the event did however end peacefully.
If there is anything that takes away from my excitement and joy and sense of pride and liberation it is that I couldn’t be there today to partake in this action, but there are six more walls to go.
Here’s a flickr photo set by Lialian Wagdy (lilianwagdy) documenting today’s events: