Women to the Front: Tahrir Square 23 December 2011

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  • Brutality

    The 23 December 2011 Tahrir protest, dubbed the 'Friday of Reclaiming Honor', focused on women and fed heavily from popular outrage at the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), led by Field Marshall Tantawi. Tensions were high after footage emerged of Egyptian soldiers brutally beating, stripping, and ultimately dragging away an unconscious woman who had fallen while trying to flee Tahrir Square. The footage was broadcast worldwide through the internet and outraged Egyptian civil society for breaking religious norms and violating human decency. For many, the attack - which has been compared to the Rodney King beating in the United States and is reminiscent of Mubarak-era tactics - signaled the last straw in popular patience and trust in SCAF. Hilary Clinton demanded Egypt's rulers respect the rights of women and rights groups around the world mobilized to condemn SCAF.

  • No

    A silent protest against violence against women in Tahrir Square.

  • Documentation

    A sidewalk mural painted at the northeast corner of Tahrir Square memorializes the brutality of of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) crackdown on Tahrir revolutionaries.

  • 'Liars'

  • What voice?

  • On the verge of January

    January will be one year since the revolution began in Egypt, and few - if any - of the initial promises made by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) have come to fruition. The revolutionaries continue to maintain a presence in Tahrir, even as the brutality of the police and cold weather intensify.

  • Blindness

    Massive murals of Egyptian revolutionaries blinded by buckshot and rubber bullets stretch from Tahrir Square to the old American University in Cairo library along Mohamed Mahmoud street.

  • The emperor wears no clothes

    A revolutionary artist puts the finishing touches on a 30 foot painting of a soldier with his trousers off at the Mogamma, a massive governmental administration building on Tahrir Square.

  • Red, White & Black

    Nationalism has surged through the revolution, and Tahrir is encircled by the Egyptian colors.

  • Tantawi: First General of Violation

    Sexual harassment is a taboo topic in Egypt, but the recent violence against women at the hands of the state has seen larger numbers of people than ever before mobilizing behind dignity for women in Egypt.

  • Room for debate

    Tahrir is as much an arena for political discussion as it is a battleground for the freedom to discuss politics. A woman is at the center of this circle.

  • Women to the front

    The 23 December 2011 'Friday of Honor' protest at Tahrir squarely placed women at the forefront, and the crowd at the main stage was almost exclusively female - chanting, cheering, and singing.

  • Transparency

    A tent serves as shelter for the elderly and infirm in Tahrir.

  • Stop Violence

    The 23 December Friday protest came after an exceptionally violent week of clashes between revolutionaries and members of the police and armed forces. Security officers were filmed throwing rocks from buildings down on protest marches - breaking bones and endangering lives. Riot police were also seen firing their revolvers into crowds of people, killing many (although despite video footage, the Egyptian authorities claim it was a 'third party' - neither government nor protester - responsible for the deaths by live ammunition). Finally, and perhaps most significantly, riot police were filmed setting upon a fleeing woman with unrestrained brutality, bludgeoning her with their batons, stripping off her clothing, and kicking her bare torso.


    No SCAF is an increasing popular slogan among revolutionaries eager to see the fulfilment of the revolution with the introduction of popular civilian leadership. #noSCAF is also a popular twitter hashtag attached to protest announcements, documentation of protester abuse by police and army, and reports of political back-room dealing that threatens direct democracy in Egypt.

  • What future?

    Current battles in Tahrir - especially in the wake of a week of violence against women by security forces - have the power to shape women's rights and representation in Egypt for decades to come.

  • ثورة

    'Revolution' is painted along Mohamed Mahmoud street, where some of the most intense of street battling has occurred.

  • Ambulance

    'Motorcycle angels' use scooters and motorcycles as ambulances during clashes with the police and army, evacuating injured revolutionaries from the front lines and ferrying them to makeshift hospitals.

  • Walls

    As blogger Sarah Carr has pointed out, the massive concrete walls erected on four streets heading from Tahrir Square to the Interior Ministry are as much a monument to the success of the revolutionary spirit as they are a testimony to the fear of the Egyptian Military rulers of further popular anger. The walls, nearly 20 feet high and 4 feet thick in places, block all traffic through some of downtown Cairo's primary thoroughfares.

  • Tantawi

    Field Marshall Tantawi - a Mubarak ally and anti-reformist - is Egypt's de facto head of state, promising transition to civilian rule, but consistently balking at protester demands to speed the process. Tantawi has come under increasingly vitriolic criticism for recent attempts to enshrine the ultimate authority of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in any future Egyptian government - including proposed legislation that the military budget shall never be publicly examined and that SCAF maintains ultimate authority over any decision taken by a future president.

  • Shabaab

  • Window

    Looking through the cracks in the massive concrete walls erected around Tahrir Square, the refuse of a week of violent clashes remains on Mohamed Mahmoud street, leading to the Interior Ministry.

  • Deafening

    Chants against SCAF and for women's dignity echoed through Tahrir.

  • Looking into the sun

  • Mubarak & Tantawi

    Egyptians continue to demand the removal of Mubarak-era figures from the national administration - including Field Marshal Tantawi, the de facto head of state.

  • With blood on his hands

    After a week of violence that saw the killing of tens of protesters - some with live fire ammunition - a revolutionary holds a picture of Field Marshall Tantawi, de facto head of the Egyptian state, with blood on his hands.

  • We don't accept apology

    The global fury over video footage of Egyptian soldiers brutalizing and stripping a woman fleeing Tahrir square last week led to a very rare apology by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), who promised that those responsible would face 'action'. Women in Tahrir have rejected the apology in totality, dismissing SCAF - an all male collection of high ranking military figures - as violent and unconcerned with their rights.

  • Two faces

    A Tahrir revolutionary holds a banner of Field Marshal Tantawi peeling up a mask to expose Mubarak hiding beneath.

  • Wanted

    Images taken from video stills of soldiers responsible for blinding protesters with buckshot and rubber bullets have been stenciled across downtown Cairo.

  • All smiles

    Despite the anger and sadness and frustration felt by many Egyptians, Tahrir continues to be filled with laughter, camaraderie, and infectious hope.