Sunday, May 1, 2011

On the road to the beach

We went to the beach over Easter break, which was a lot of fun. It was a lovely and welcome vacation, and not much of a metaphor for what is happening in Egypt. One recent reminder of what is happening here does seem to involve a university professor’s trip to the beach. The arrest of a law professor for insulting a military officer itself is disturbing, the apparent decision to try him before a military tribunal makes it much more so.

His detention happened around a beach area, though a different one than where we were. On the road to the beach, I noticed the construction of a series of statues of military officers. They seemed very basic, and apparently were still under construction of some sort. It was clear that they were propped on bases that were in the process of being painted the colors of the flag. There were at least two variations of the statue—one a military soldier saluting and another holding a pair of binoculars, that appeared every few miles though seemingly not at regular intervals. (Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos.) They seem to me to represent the idea of the citizen-soldier (although if they were icons of particular officials I am clearly mistaken). There was a lovely and elaborate mosaic mural I also saw that told this story. It featured a soldier climbing out of a tank and being greeted by a mass of civilians waving Egyptian flags.

I have only been on this road a couple of times so I don’t have a clear sense of what preceded these statues, though there certainly were frequent icons of Mubarak (billboards and murals) that are all gone, and replaced by this new national narrative.

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