Continuing Chaos in Tahrir Square: Photographs by Yuri Kozyrev

Massive demonstrations turned to celebration in and around Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, July 3, 2013, as Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the military and taken into custody. Photograph by Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME
Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME
July 3, 2013. Fireworks light the sky after massive demonstrations turned to celebration in and around Tahrir Square, Cairo, as Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the military and taken into custody.

The story of Egypt is the story of crowds.  Until January 2011, its politics were the sterile, servile sort enforced by one-party states. But Tahrir Square changed that, and public affairs have refused to move indoors since.

What Yuri Kozyrev has captured in these photos is the abrupt, almost neck-snapping changes that exploded in Cairo’s public spaces in the first days of July.  First the city erupted in rejoicing in the hours after the Egyptian military removed President Mohamed Morsi from office July 3, his one-year tenure eclipsed by the most massive public demonstrations in the nation’s history three days earlier.  Now tens of thousands surged into Tahrir to cheer, bathed in the glow of fireworks and the green laser pointers sold in the square like corn on the cob. Thousands more piled into cars and honked their way through the streets of the capital in the kind of celebration normally seen after a World Cup final.

Photograph by Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME; color treated by TIME

Photograph by Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME; color treated by TIME

Flags were everywhere – including, the next morning, across the pale blue dome of the Cairo sky.  Military fighter jets put on an air show over downtown, trailing streams of the national colors and drawing a valentine over Tahrir.  Egyptians insisted the president’s removal was not a coup but a national liberation.

Meanwhile, Morsi loyalists built what they called their own Tahir, in the street opposite a mosque in the southeast Cairo neighborhood of Nasr City.  In the space of hours, the world of the Muslim Brotherhood had been turned upside, but the organization soon found its feet, and set to marching.

The coup happened on a Wednesday. By Friday, the Brothers were confronting the military at a Republican Guard compound, where sentries opened fire.  A few hours later a column of Morsi loyalists marched across Nile toward Tahrir. Most pivoted away to assemble outside the headquarters of state television, which was pointedly ignoring their protests.  But enough confronted the anti-Morsi crowd to ignite a rock-throwing melee atop the 6 October Bridge.

The confrontation announced a wrenching new phase in Egypt’s odyssey.  The nation that Morsi was accused of polarizing politically by majoritarian behavior was now choosing sides in the literal sense.  Demonstrations threatened to become street battles.  In the early hours of Monday, July 8, gunfire sounded outside the Republican Guard compound, and 51 members of the Brotherhood lay dead.  A country that five days earlier appeared rapturous was, just like that, teetering on a precipice.


Yuri Kozyrev is a contract photographer for TIME who has covered the Arab Spring since January 2011. See more of his photos from Egypt here on LightBox.

Karl Vick is TIME’s Jerusalem bureau chief.


Related Topics: , , , , , ,

Latest Posts

The henna is a pre-nuptial cerimony celebrated in Moroccan or Yemenite families where the soon-to-be bride is dressed-up as a Queen with flowers and jewels and she is inivited to dance with her girl friends to say good-bye to celibacy and life as a single young girl. During the dance cerimony, the Kallah, the bride-to-be's hands and feet are painted with henne`, the red pouder from India. This welcomes fertility and happinesses within the marriage. Meah Shearim, Jerusalem, Israel. July 2012.

Finding Faith and Beauty in the Lives of Orthodox Jewish Women

For four years, Italian photographer Federica Valabrega has photographed the everyday lives of Orthodox Jewish women around the world

Read More
A suspected migrant runs back to Miguel Aleman, Mexico after being pursued by agents near Roma, Texas. Oct. 8, 2014.

Photojournalism Daily: Nov. 26, 2014

Stephen Waddell

Off the Radar: Jeff Wall Puts the Spotlight on Stephen Waddell

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 19,368 other followers