Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
February 2, 2011

David Degner in Cairo: No Longer About Freedom of Speech But Life and Death

Reaching photographer David Degner again in Cairo, he provides BagNews readers this photo and account. The photo foreshadows the terrible violence that broke out today in Freedom Square:

“This photo was taken last night in Tahrir Square at the moment Mubarak announced to the nation he would not be stepping down right away.  The people in the crowd were watching his announcement on an outdoor video screen.  As you can see, the people, united in their reaction, were all taking their shoes off.  I don’t think it strikes people in the U.S. what it means for people here to wave their shoes, and how serious an image it is.

“Two nights ago, the square was party, people passing out food, playing their ouds,  reciting poetry.  A group was singing to the soldiers to keep them entertained.

“But if I was a writer and I was describing this scene last night, I would mostly talk about the smell of stinking socks. A lot of people had already been in the square for a few days so it already wasn’t smelling that good anymore, but the smell at this moment was really strong.

“People had been resolved to the fact of Mubarak stepping down.  People understood the seriousness of Mubarak’s decision.  They knew it might lead to an escalation. At this moment, I think people understood that this was no longer just a nice protest, a freedom of speech thing, but, instead, this had now become a life-or-death political movement.”

— David Degner


You can see David’s previous crisis post, “David Degner in Cairo: The End of the Show?,” here at BagNewsOriginals. You can also see David’s photo-story on the outbreak of the current crisis at the Wall Street Journal. For his photo-documentation of life in Cairo, including more crisis images, visit his website, Incendiary Image.

About the Photographer

David Degner

A photojournalist based in Cairo, Egypt, David Degner looks to cultivate long-term relationships, tell untold stories and give novel analysis. His work has been published in TIME Magazine, The Guardian Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. He is represented by Getty Reportage. You can see all David's posts for Reading The Pictures here.

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