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A Day In The Life Of A Cairo Protest

A rally that last year drew tens of thousands to mark the anniversary of 40 Egyptians killed in clashes on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, this year led to confused protests and clashes between groups.

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The mood was calm, almost listless when activists began to trickle onto Mohamed Mahmoud Street near Tahrir Square on Tuesday. The street still bears the names and images of those killed during the Egyptian uprising of 2011.

People milled and admired the new graffiti that had gone up overnight. Most said they had no idea what to expect from the day.

One of the artists explains to me the significance of the new mural-mocking the army in pink/neon camoflague #Tahrir

Bel Trew - بل ترو

@Beltrew

One of the artists explains to me the significance of the new mural-mocking the army in pink/neon camoflague #Tahrir

/ Via

The energy picked up by midday, when hundreds filled the street. Banners hung at the entrance to Tahrir said that those supporting the military, the old regime, or the Muslim Brotherhood were not welcome.

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In Tahrir, supporters of Egyptian General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi held their own rally for those killed in 2011. They said they disagreed with the anti-military protesters and believed Sisi could lead Egypt out of its current deep divisions.

This video shows the police firing tear gas to disperse the clashing protesters.

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But by early evening, the Egyptian World Cup Qualifying Soccer match with Ghana distracted many of the protesters, who took a break to watch the game.

Protesting stops on #Tahrir to watch the Egypt vs Ghana World Cup Qualifier. #Mohamedmahmoud #egypt

Cliff Cheney

@cliffcheney

Protesting stops on #Tahrir to watch the Egypt vs Ghana World Cup Qualifier. #Mohamedmahmoud #egypt

/ Via

It almost felt like someone had called for a half-time break in the clashes.

People transfixed by the Egypt/Ghana World Cup qualifier, screening now in Tahrir

Jared Malsin

@jmalsin

People transfixed by the Egypt/Ghana World Cup qualifier, screening now in Tahrir

/ Via

By 10 p.m., the game was over. Egypt had lost and the clashes resumed, though it was unclear who was fighting whom. Police fired tear gas into Tahrir to disperse the groups, but many continued fighting on side streets.

The day invigorated some of Egypt's original revolutionary activists, who claimed it signaled a "new wave" of protests to challenge the army's current popularity.

Crowd hold up three fingers against military, MB and 'feloul' (Mubarak regime)

Sharif Kouddous

@sharifkouddous

Crowd hold up three fingers against military, MB and 'feloul' (Mubarak regime)

/ Via

"This is just the beginning. We are here to show that the revolution is not over," said Mustafa El Hagry, who said he has been taking part in protests in Tahrir since 2011.

Hundreds of anti-Sisi/Morsi protesters in Mohamed Mahmoud and Tahrir. No sign of pro-Sisi or pro-Morsi now.

Jonathan Rashad

@JonathanRashad

Hundreds of anti-Sisi/Morsi protesters in Mohamed Mahmoud and Tahrir. No sign of pro-Sisi or pro-Morsi now.

/ Via

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Others, however, were less optimistic. "There are not many people here, and of those who have come there are divisions — it is confusing," said Bassem Amr, 40, who stood on the sidelines to watch youthful crowd on Mohamed Mahmoud.

On Mohamed Mahmoud now. Roped off area with hundreds chanting A7a Sisi a7a Morsi.

Tamer El-Ghobashy

@TamerELG

On Mohamed Mahmoud now. Roped off area with hundreds chanting A7a Sisi a7a Morsi.

/ Via

"Most Egyptians do not understand what these groups represent," said Amr. He pointed to a banner proclaiming that supporters of the army, Brotherhood, or old Mubarak regime were not welcome. "OK, so we know what they don't want, but what do they want?"

Banner over the entrance to Mohamed Mahmoud reads “Revolutionaries only- Ikhwan, army, feloul not allowed to enter”

Basil الضبع

@basildabh

Banner over the entrance to Mohamed Mahmoud reads “Revolutionaries only- Ikhwan, army, feloul not allowed to enter”

/ Via

Nabil Bahgat, a photographer who has been following the original Tahrir revolutionary groups for two years said that now was a difficult time for the group.

Bahgat said he had been motivated to come to the protest when he saw that a monument built by the army and dedicated to those killed during the upheavals in Egypt was defaced less than 10 hours after it had been erected.

On top of the monument, a symbolic coffin was placed. "We honor those killed, not the army who did the killing," said Amr.

A symbolic coffin for Mohamed Mahmoud victims is put over the monument in Tahrir after being destroyed.

Jonathan Rashad

@JonathanRashad

A symbolic coffin for Mohamed Mahmoud victims is put over the monument in Tahrir after being destroyed.

/ Via

Sheera Frenkel is a cybersecurity correspondent for BuzzFeed News based in San Francisco. She has reported from Israel, Egypt, Jordan and across the Middle East. Her secure PGP fingerprint is 4A53 A35C 06BE 5339 E9B6 D54E 73A6 0F6A E252 A50F

Contact Sheera Frenkel at sheera.frenkel@buzzfeed.com.

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