INTAKHABAT: OUTTAKES FROM A DEMOCRATIC EGYPT


In May, 2012, I arrived in post-revolution Egypt, alongside some very good company. Our timing couldn't have been better: Egypt was set to host its first freely-held democratic presidential elections, and we were to have a front row seat.


Had I known a front row seat would literally mean hiding on the balconies of abandoned buildings, camera in hand, while soldiers in Cub Scout-looking uniforms pointed soviet rifles at me from the polling location below, I probably would have cried with excitement, for I went to Egypt seeking thrills.


Documenting the two days of elections was about as heated as things got during our duration there, although I did happen to find myself in quite a few other questionable, dare I say, semi-dangerous situations (you can read about one of those situation on Animal New York). .


Intakhabat translates simply to "elections" in Arabic. And while this story does in many ways center around the elections that took place, it is more a story of intrigue; a brief glimpse into an incredible period in Egypt's history, told to you through the eyes of a curious American with a camera and a photojournalism degree. 


I put this photo first because I feel like it is the type of photo everyone expected me to come back from Egypt with. 

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Most of my time spent in Tahrir Square was peaceful, almost jubilant. But arguments did tend to escalate quickly. Street urchins also got a real kick out of coming up to me, tapping me on the shoulder and whispering, "Death to America."

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Traveled by train between Alexandria and Cairo, and caught a glimpse of more rural living. 
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Cairo's Khan Khalili Market, a popular tourist area, was the site of a major suicide bomb attack a few years prior. 
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The women here are tough and courageous. Egypt is definitely still a male-dominated society. 
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Young and old gathered in Tahrir Square daily, to show their support for a democratic Egypt.

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This photo sums up 80% of my time in Cairo. Dark alleys, shadowy figures and a complete loss of the concept of time. 
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People liked to come up to me and pose for the camera. Some asked if I was a spy. I imagine it would be far more difficult now to walk around Tahir Square, camera in hand, and shoot portraits. Especially if you don't understand Arabic. Thankfully, I had the most wonderful of translators by my side. 
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Aggressive street merchants will try to sell you everything from packs of tissues, to cheap nicknacks

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Mohamed Morsi won quite a bit of support from individuals in more rural communities, like this one. 
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Outskirts of Cairo. 

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Lollipops and shattered cars. Signs of the revolution were everywhere. 
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I thought this was interesting. Pre-revolution graffiti, written in English. It's almost as if it's an appeal to Western media. 
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An all-female voting location. Voting lasted two days. 

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Sailed da Nile. 
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A random street vendor who was kind enough to pose for a portrait. 

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Showing off the freshly-inked finger

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Our driver while in Alexandria, Abraham. 

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Many of these portraits were taken in-between interviewing individuals about their thoughts on the elections. 

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This is Osama, our wonderful guide for the majority of our time spent in Egypt. 

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This gentlemen, before posing for a portrait, explained how he had balanced protesting in Tahrir Square, with studying for his college final exams. 

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Our incredible host in Alexandria. Not pictured: her bright pink fuzzy slippers, which she specifically asked I crop out. 

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We watched this man dip a drinking glass directly into the Nile, twice, and chug the water.

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Army trainees 

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The kids here get away with everything!
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Capitalism, alive and well in the shop windows of Cairo. 
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SpongeBob is literally EVERYWHERE. Yes, that is Tahir Square in the background. 
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We rode horses through the desert, One of them wasn't feeling so hot. I couldn't walk right for the rest of the trip. 
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Kittens, everywhere. There are almost as many kittens as SpongeBob shirts.
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Somewhere between Cairo and Alexandria. 
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This was shot from a balcony in downtown Cairo. protests would literally form and dissipate non stop throughout the day and night. 
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Went back to Tahir Square several times to take in the energy. 

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From what I can tell, the Egyptian people are kind and generous. They look out for one another. The revolution and so many of the atrocities committed since I was there certainly overshadow the compassionate nature of these people. 
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Even made some new friends and partied like an Egyptian. 
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I tip my hat to this great nation and its people. I'm glad I was able to make my way there during one of the most hopeful, positive moments in their political and societal history. I only hope it's government can fulfill its promise to the people and give them back true democracy. 

Special thanks to Aymann and Hebah Ismail for translating/making sure I didn't get kidnapped. 
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