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Monday, November 18, 2013

Egyptian Protesters Destroy Tahrir Square Monument Erected by Interim Government

Video showing the dedication of a monument in Tahrir Square on Monday recorded by Pierre Sioufi, an Egyptian activist and blogger, from an apartment above the square.

Just hours after Egypt’s military-led interim government tried to cement its claim to revolutionary legitimacy â€" with the dedication of a memorial to the uprisings that toppled two authoritarian presidents in two years â€" protesters swarmed the monument in the center of Tahrir Square on Monday night and defaced it, chanting, “The revolution’s returned to Tahrir.”

Video of Egyptian protesters destroying the new monument in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Monday night from the newspaper El Badeel.

The memorial, which appeared suddenly over the weekend, equated the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 with the protests that toppled his successor, Mohamed Morsi, four months ago and was officially dedicated to the “martyrs” of the revolution. As Egyptian bloggers and journalists noted, however, there was no mention of the fact that it was the nation’s own security forces, now in control of the country, who had done almost all of the killing.

The protest march that ended in Tahrir on Monday was itself a memorial, commemorating 45 protesters who were killed by security forces two years ago this week on Mohamed Mahmoud, a street leading to the square.

The battle for control of the symbolic space comes against the backdrop of a broader struggle to control the narrative of the past two years. It has included the construction of another monument to the security forces at the site of a massacre of protesters in August, and the literal whitewashing of graffiti on the walls around Tahrir.

Images posted online Monday night by the activist blogger Mona Seif and other witnesses showed protesters marching to the square. They were waving a banner displaying the face of a young protester killed by the security forces during the Morsi presidency, on the first anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes, past new graffiti dedicated to the fallen revolutionaries. They also defaced the new monument with the words: “Down with all traitors: the army, the former regime remnants, the Brotherhood.”

Late Monday, the American photojournalist Cliff Cheney and several Egyptian journalists and activists documented the extent of the destruction done to the monument.

Late Monday, the Associated Press correspondent Sarah El Deeb reported on Twitter that activists were cleaning the walls around the square of graffiti to make a fresh canvas for new revolutionary paintings.