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You Can Crush the Flowers

A Visual Memoir of the Egyptian Revolution

Part visual history, part memoir, You Can Crush the Flowers is a chronicle of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and its aftermath, as it manifested itself not only in the art on the streets of Cairo but also through the wider visual culture that emerged during the revolution. Marking the ten-year anniversary of the revolution, celebrated Egyptian-Lebanese artist Bahia Shehab tells the stories that inspired both her own artwork and the work of her fellow revolutionaries. Shehab narrates the events of the revolution as they unfolded, describing on one hand the tactics deployed by the regime to drive protesters from the street—from the use of tear gas and snipers to brute force, intimidation techniques, and virginity tests—and on the other hand the retaliation by the protesters online and on the street in marches, chants, street art, and memes. Throughout this powerful and moving account, which includes over one hundred images, Shehab responds to all these aspects of the revolution as both artist and activist. The result bears witness to the brutality of the regime and pays tribute to the protestors who bravely defied it.


144 pages | 132 color plates | 8 x 10

Art: Middle Eastern, African, and Asian Art

Middle Eastern Studies

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"By her own account, Shehab, one of the Arab world’s most inventive graphic artists, was not a political rebel until the Egyptian uprising of 2011. . . The memoir is evocative and moving; the illustrations an important piece of the historical record."

Foreign Affairs

Table of Contents

Introduction 6
Rooms in an Imagined Museum (25 January to 11 February 2011) 10
The Calligrapher’s Headline (12 February 2011) 18
A State of Democratic Infancy (February to October 2011) 22
A Thousand Times No (November to December 2011) 28
First Anniversary (January to March 2012) 40
The Candidates (March to June 2012) 60
The New Pharaoh (July to December 2012) 72
The Children of Asyut (January to June 2013) 82
Rebel, Cat! (June 2013) 92
Stealing the Dream (June 2013) 102
A Conversation (July to October 2013) 108
Ten Years On: May You See Days Better than Mine 114
Bibliography 138
Endnotes 141

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