The street, which has seen some of the most intense clashes between protesters and police since the start of last year’s popular uprising, has become a premier venue for revolutionary-themed murals.
Spray-painted images of the revolution’s martyrs, symbols and slogans as well as artistic paintings have continued to line the walls despite attempts by the authorities to white-wash the political artwork and messages.
The removal sparked angry comments on social networking sites, as people condemned the authorities for censoring the revolutionary landmark. Many posted pictures of the now-blank walls.
Egyptian journalist Mona El-Tahawi commented on Twitter that, “now police – [President] Morsi’s police – erase aerosol writing & murals on Mohamed Mahmoud St. You can’t whitewash a rotten history, Mr. Morsy!”
Ahdaf Soueif, an Egyptian best-selling author and cultural commentator, mourned the aerosol writing ‘s removal as it came a day after she spoke about Egyptian street art at a cultural event in London.
“Yesterday I gave a talk about the Muhammad Mahmoud aerosol writing . Heartbreak when they start removing it today,” she said on the micro-blogging site.
While some mourned, others promised to draw again and some even saw the state action as “normal.”
Egyptian costume designer Maya Gowaily, who took one of the first initiatives to document post-revolution aerosol writing in the streets of Cairo, thinks it is only natural for street art to be erased.
“The idea of aerosol writing is that it is continuous, you repaint a wall once, twice, thrice,” said Gowaily, adding that the removal is beneficial to the aerosol writers since it gives them another chance to paint.
“Walls become recycled canvases, otherwise there would be no walls to paint on eventually,” Gowaily told Ahram Online.
Indeed, hours after the removal of the images, artists painted a new mural: a head sticking out its tongue, surrounded by words reading “erase more, cowardly regime.”