Tahrir Square, August 2011: Text and Photographs

Line Up

Since the last time I wrote about Egypt after the Revolution, just a month ago, the atmosphere has changed. The military police are back in Tahrir Square after several recent protests became violent. Tanks have once again been deployed. And in the side streets, vans and more police sit, at the ready. It’s Ramadan, and according to local newspapers, “this year it will be more political than previous ones.”

Today, August 3, history is being made. Today Hosni Mubarak has been flown in from Sharm el Sheikh. His trial is set to begin. Today, armed with my camera and accompanied by my driver and my husband, I went to Tahrir Square. In addition to the police, we found others there, like us, gathering, waiting. Wondering what is to be.


Bridge over the Nile at dawn


On our way with Mohammed


Approaching Tahrir Square


Getting the shot from a speeding car


Security on the perimeter





Waiting, 7 am


Waiting, 9 am


Side street, near Tahrir Square


Ramadan decorations at sit-in protest; behind Tahrir Square


Standing Vigil


Dispensing words of wisdom


With batons near the Egyptian Museum


Homeward, past a former Mubarak Palace



—Natalia Sarkissian in Cairo

This photo essay first appeared in Numéro Cinq Magazine, in August, 2011, back when the Arab Spring was unfolding, before we knew what was to happen there, before Hosni Mubarak’s trial had begun.
Foreigners like me could still take pictures without fear of being arrested and thrown in jail.

Here are some of the comments associated with the original publication:

12 Responses to “Tahrir Square, August 2011: Photographs — Natalia Sarkissian”

  1. thirdeyemom says:August 3, 2011 at 6:42 pmAmazing pictures. I hope you are writing more soon about Egypt.Reply
  2. Natalia says:August 4, 2011 at 12:36 amThanks, thirdeye. More is in the works!Reply
  3. quarmby says:August 4, 2011 at 3:43 amAnother powerful series of photographs Natalia.Reply
    • Natalia says:August 5, 2011 at 12:01 amThe Egyptian Gazette’s headlines today were “Mubarak in the Cage”. It’s a defining moment for the country and people are wondering with a fair amount of impatience how it is going to play out.Reply
  4. Steven Axelrod says:August 4, 2011 at 5:53 pmI love these. Your lion is now my computer’s wallpaper. I’ve had time to notice how beautifully composed the photograph is, though marred by my stupid desk-top icons. Maybe I’ll get rid of them so I can see the bicycle rider more clearly …Reply
    • Natalia says:August 5, 2011 at 12:06 amIf you ever come to Cairo, you have to take a trip along the banks of the Nile either at sunrise or sunset when the light is a golden haze and renders any photo gorgeous. Thanks, Steve, glad you like it!Reply
  5. Natalia says:August 5, 2011 at 12:04 amNot everyone is glad to see Mubarak in the cage…a few Egyptians have told me how sad they are. Others have said they’re glad for the change but are tired of the protests that end up disrupting the economy (tourists staying away).Reply
  6. Hussein K says:August 13, 2011 at 2:00 pmGreat photos of familiar landmarks. The palace may have been taken over by Mubarak, but it used to belong to the old Royals if I remember right. I am glad my friend Ralph R. passed the URL to me. Keep up the good work!Reply
  7. natalia says:August 13, 2011 at 2:47 pmThanks Hussein, glad you liked these, glad RR sent you the link!
    On Monday Mubarak and his sons are due back in court–“in the cage”–at the Police Academy in New Cairo and, according to the Egyptian Gazette, protestors are calling for a massive showing out in front. They’re asking for a million-man rally. As per the Gazette, an organizer using Facebook to rally the masses said: “We must stage a million-man demonstration outside the courtroom in the Police Academy so as not to give anyone the chance to laugh at the revolution.” The Facebook entry added that Egyptians should show Mubarak’s supporters that they are siding with ‘criminals’ who have committed deadly crimes against their fellow citizens.
    The show of force is also, according to the paper, to avoid that Mubarak be granted amnesty (as has been suggested by foreign heads of state).
    I expect that police will be in full force at the Police Academy and probably in Tahrir Square as well.Reply
  8. Gayle Kimball, Ph.D. says:August 16, 2011 at 10:38 amI interviewed young activists in the Square in July for my book on global youth. Has the military succeeded in clearing Tahrir or have they found ways to come back with their tents? Thanks, GayleReply
    • ns says:August 16, 2011 at 10:43 amGayle, thanks for asking. As of last week the activists in their tents had been moved out of the square. I can’t say what the situation is this week, but assume that they aren’t back.Reply
  9. Jean Grant says:August 20, 2011 at 8:15 amMarvellous pictures and story. Please keep it up!

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