“Paper Bullets” 49 (Egypt) Arab Spring, 2010-11

The Arab Spring revolution in Egypt fought against the thirty-year regime of President Hosni Mubarak through anti-government and pro-democracy protests. Inspired by the successful revolution in Tunisia weeks beforehand, the Egyptian protests began in January 2011.

The blue sticker, written in Egyptian colloquial Arabic, is one in a series of four with colorful political messages. The empowering slogan at the top of each sticker من دلوقتي حاعرف حقي means, “Starting this moment, I know my right.” In the center of the sticker, the phrase العملية الانتخابية translates to “the electoral process.” At the bottom, the text يعني صوتي أنا يعيّن رئيس الجمهورية means, “my voice (vote) will decide the president of the republic.”

The center of the red sticker (العدالة الاجتماعية) translates to “social justice.”  A central aspect to the revolution of Egypt was fighting against devastating poverty and rampant unemployment.  The text at the bottom, يعني أكلي وسكني ما يخلصوش الماهيّة explains, “Paying for my food and rent should not consume all of my paycheck/all of my money,” and argues that an aspect of fairness is economic autonomy.  The bold color red often is associated with revolution and also appears on the Egyptian flag.

In the green sticker, the artist defines democracy underneath by stating يعني الشعب له كلمته في الحياة السياسيّة, or “They have a voice in political life.” The sticker speaks out against Mubarak’s autocratic governance and seeks to reclaim a sense of ownership in political decisions.

At the bottom of the purple sticker, the artist writes يعني رأيك أحترمه بس ما تفرضحوش عليّا or “I respect your opinion but don’t force it on me.”  The iconographic use of the sun and radiating lines suggests democratic ideals.

Thanks to Rebecca Clayman (SLU Class of ’17), gallery intern, and Gisele El Khoury, director of St. Lawrence University’s Language Resource Center and Arabic professor, for their assistance translating and cataloguing these stickers for the Street Art Graphics digital archive.