Did the urban design of Rabaa Square influence the number of casualties in the 2013 massacre?
In Egypt, 18 days of protests forced the country’s long-serving president, Hosni Mubarak to resign on the 11th of February 2011. One year later, Egyptians chose Mohamed Morsi as their president, in the first free presidential election in the country’s history. Just over two years later, five activists founded the Tamarod movement to collect signatures against Mohamed Morsi in an attempt to force early presidential elections. The launch of the movement gave the Egyptian military the pretext they needed to topple the new Islamist president, which they duly did in late June 2013.
In response to the military’s seizure of power, Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters organised enormous, on-going sit-ins in Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Nahda Squares to condemn the military coup and demand Morsi’s reinstatement. In mid-August, the security forces dispersed the two large camps within approximately 12 hours, leading to hundreds of deaths and many more wounded.
In this case, questions of urban design intersect with the politics of resistance in important ways. Why, for example, did protesters fail to safely escape the authorities’ violence in Rabaa Al-Adawiya? Would a different urban composition have resulted in a different situation? […]