In an uncertain Egypt, street artists rein in their outrage

Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:06pm EDT
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By Tom Finn and Noah Browning

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian rappers and graffiti artists who captured the spirit of the youthful rebellion that toppled president Hosni Mubarak are toning down their outrage as the path to democracy has become more complicated.

Three weeks since the military ousted Mubarak's elected successor, the Islamist Mohamed Mursi, street artists who want neither religious nor military rule see little place in today's exhausted Egypt for their once defiant world view.

"Emotions are high. The country is's too soon," said Cairo rapper Mohammed al-Deeb whose lyrics once tapped into growing discontent with life under Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood.

Last year, al-Deeb rapped: "Trials slowing down, corruption is rampant, it stinks like armpits, the police execute orders like Robocop."

Now that the Brotherhood is out of power and its supporters hold massive sit-ins and rallies that have repeatedly led to deadly clashes with the military and with other Egyptians, his hopes for peace have muted the raps that once aimed to provoke.

"We still don't know where this is headed. The army is in power. We have a temporary president. We have to put our revolutionary feelings away, at least for now," he said.

Sculptor Alaa Abdel Hameed, 27, has stopped a provocative art project he began last month: gluing onto street walls brightly colored plaques of the eagle from the armed forces' insignia, upside down.

After the military toppled Mursi on July 3, many of the eagles were ripped off by passers-by who chastised him for insulting the symbol of those they see as the nation's saviors.   Continued...

A girl walks past graffiti on a wall near Tahrir square in Cairo July 21, 2013. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih