Inside Egypt’s Continuing Protests

After former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted from office by the military in July 2013, a steady stream of demonstrations took place nationwide. This is an intimate view from inside the ongoing protests in and around Giza by Belal Wagdy. Many of these protests are led by youth who are organized in a number of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups, such as “Ultras Nahdawy” and “Ultras Masr Siasi.” Since Morsi’s ouster, the majority of anti-government protests have been held in remote areas and working class districts, such as parts of Giza and the Matareya neighborhood of Cairo.

A group of Ultras Nahdawy members march in Haram district of Giza on the second anniversary of July 3. The march took about an hour and finished on the ring road. It wasn’t attacked by police.
Bystanders respond in different ways to protests. Some just watch, some raise the Rabea sign and others disapprove. In the beginning some bystanders attacked protesters with guns, now the worst they do is throw water from above.
A demonstration in Matareya is attacked by police. As protesters disperse into the alleyways, one notices blood on his arm. After the Protest Law was passed, demonstrations were violently attacked by police more often.
On the second anniversary of July 3, the Ultras Nahdawy cut off the ring road with roman candles, rocks, tires and burning gasoline. There is a clash between the youth who want to take up more guns and use violence and some of the leaders who are holding them back.
Well-known Ultras Nahdawy leader “Torta” holds up a piece of memorabilia from a traffic cop's uniform. He was recently arrested from his house and held for two weeks. He claims to have been tortured while in police custody, especially after the police found out his nickname. Torta is slang for the roman candles that are used in clashes.
A protester writes a slogan calling for the "fall of the military government" during a protest in Haram on October 10. Ultras chants commonly include songs such as لو مر السنين or "Shams al-horreya." They have also been chanting more recently in solidarity with Palestine.
A protest starts from the Dar al-Uloom (Faculty of Arabic Language and Islamic History) building in front of Cairo University in March 2015. The Dar al-Uloom is known as the faculty with the most support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Students climb the faculty of commerce building and hang a sign saying "Today Idlib [was freed], tomorrow Cairo." Pro-Brotherhood protesters have been posting slogans on this building since the 1990s. The mosque in the faculty of commerce is also known as a gathering place for discussion among Brotherhood sympathizers.
Students hold up a Syrian flag during the same protest, as university security members gather beside them.
A university student lights a flare during a protest at Cairo University.
In March, after university security arrested a Morsi supporter, students launched a revenge attack on university gate security.
Ultras Masr Siasi hold a demonstration in front of the burned-out police station in Kerdasa. It was attacked the same day as the Rabea dispersal and the police chief was killed. There is still significant support for the Brotherhood in Kerdasa and Nahya, a district of Giza.
The ring road is a major artery connecting Giza and Cairo. Ultras protesters often block this road in Talbeya, a district of Haram, preventing police vehicles from getting too close and giving them time to disperse into Talbeya, a neighborhood with many Brotherhood sympathizers.
A protest passes along Orouba Street in Haram after Friday prayers at Shahid Mosque.
After Eid prayers in Nahiya, four people were shot by police, including Hossam al-Aqabawy, a member of Ultras Nahdawy.
Hossam al-Aqabawy’s friends carried his body back to his family’s house. His mother was at home and when she saw him she broke down screaming, "What happened? What happened? My Son!"
After Hossam al-Aqabawy's death, the Ultras Nahdawy attacked a police roadblock in Haram Street in revenge and the police deserted their post.
Anis Mahdy's mother and sisters bend over his casket. Anis Mahdy, a leader in the Students Against the Coup pro-Brotherhood movement, was killed in clashes with university security forces at Cairo University.
Friends and family line up outside Anis Mahdy's grave waiting for his body to be taken inside.
Ultras Masr Siasi, left, and Ultras Nahdawy, right, hold a joint march in Nahiya. Both have distinctive uniforms and songs, though their political views are similar.
Two leaders of Ultras Nahadawy lead chants in Talbeya. One has now fled the country, and the other, like many members of the Ultras Nahdawy, is on the run from police.
A resident of Matareya photographs an Ultras Nahdawy protest.
Ultras Masr Siasi held a rare protest in Tahrir Square with just a few members. Tahrir is heavily guarded, which forces protesters into areas on the periphery, like Giza.
 
 
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Belal Wagdy 
 
 
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