Great Paintings

As many have noted, the pivotal moment of the revolution came Jan 28th in a stunning event on Kasr el-Nil Bridge. After hours of struggle, 20,000 determined protesters pushing toward downtown overpowered a brigade of riot police armed with tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons. The protesters reclaimed Tahrir Square for the people and held it tenaciously for fifteen days until their revolutionary aims were achieved.

Strolling across a bustling, jubilant Kasr al-Nil Bridge Monday night it was incredibly moving to see a row of citizens repainting the signature green railings of the bridge. Not workers, just normal proud Egyptians—and Egyptians of every stripe, Islamists, university preps, young rascals, dads holding babies, everyone. Someone might paint for 15 minutes then hand off the brush to the next passerby, who would gladly continue her revelry through doing her part for the city. I told a teenage painter I’d be very happy if he would autograph my book.*

Despite the vain efforts of the Mubarak regime to paint the protests as destructive, what has shone through most brilliantly is the genuinely constructive aim of the revolution. Amidst great motion, there was incredible focus. The fury was governed by a sense of purpose and pride and love of Egypt that moved millions to the street. It succeeded because it was beautiful.


* An elderly woman in niqab painting next to him overheard our conversation and said something to the effect of “write something about Egypt also”, so I handed him my pen. I can’t make out his handwriting very well except for “25 January”. Maybe Francesca or Neil can clue us in better…


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