Waking the Sleeping Tiger

Cairo’s Other Revolution

Story by Joseph Dana

Photography by Cliff Cheney

Published on Feb 11, 2013

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About two years have passed since protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square kicked off a revolution that toppled a dictatorship and sent ripples through not only Egypt, but the entire Arab world. With violence and political unrest continuing to reshape the built environment, ordinary Cairenes are rethinking the ways they interact with the changing urban landscape around them. As protesters, street vendors and government authorities battle over to whom public space belongs and what it may look like, people living in long-ignored informal settlements away from the city center have taken to building their own highway ramps and challenging long-accepted axioms of urban life. Meanwhile, the remnants of a Mubarak-era master plan threaten slum-dwellers along the Nile with forced evictions, while a filmmaking collective stirs community fervor by screening documentaries on walls all over Cairo. From downtown street battles to cafés in the distant 20th Street neighborhood, Cairo-based journalist Joseph Dana finds out what’s in store for the future of the city of a thousand minarets.

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