Update from a Photographer on the Ground in Cairo

August 19, 2013 | Andy Cush

Of all of the images to emerge from the chaos currently raging in Egypt, among the gripping is the one you see above, of a military armored truck toppling off of Cairo’s 6th of October bridge last Wednesday. According to photographer Aly Hazzaa, who took the photo, the Central Security Forces truck fell when its driver attempted to maneuver away from stones being tossed by Muslim Brotherhood protesters, but several American news outlets reported that the demonstrators pushed the truck off.

ANIMAL contacted Hazzaa to talk about the photo, his experiences on the ground, and media coverage of the events in Egypt.

In the gallery, see some of Hazzaa’s recent photos from Rabaa Al-Adawiyah mosque, a center of Muslim Brotherhood protest that was violently cleared by military forces last week.

Could you explain the events that led to that truck coming off the bridge as you saw them?

I was on the 6th of October Bridge because it was the safest place to cover the clashes and also to get a wide shot to show the whole scene, as the Muslim brothers marched from Abassiya Square towards Rabaa al-Adawiyah to support their fellows.

Of course police and army were blocking all of the entrances that lead to the sit-in, and when the march approached, the police and some civilians prevented the march from going to the sit-in, where the evacuation was apparently already taking place.

Most of the protestors were on the ground, but a small number of them were on the bridge. At 11:02 I saw a CSF truck reversing rapidly on the bridge to escape the stones that a few protestors were throwing against it. The truck hit the railing, pulling one of the lampposts from the cement. I have no doubt the police driver took the wrong actions, and that the protesters didn’t throw the truck from the bridge, as that’s almost impossible to do.

How do you react to the fact that so many U.S. media outlets, including major newspapers, reported that protesters pushed the truck off the bridge, and not that the driver accidentally reversed off?

I cant blame them as the circumstances of this accident weren’t clear and the situation in Egypt was changing rapidly that day. But I’m sad that no one tried to correct or investigate what happened the next day except ANIMAL, and 99% of the Egyptian media is refusing to believe my story because the want to condemn the Muslim brothers in any possible way.

What’s your photography background? Do you work for Al-Shorouk, the paper that published the bridge photo, full-time?

I worked as a mechatronic engineer until 2011, and after the 25th of January (the beginning of Egypt’s 2011 popular uprising), I decided to become a photographer. This is my third year as a full-time photojournalist at Al-Shorouk newspaper.

What’s your sense of the situation, as a person who has been on the ground? Does it feel like it’s getting any better or worse?

I don’t think its getting any better soon, because both sides are not willing to make any compromises, and what makes the situation worse is that the media from both sides is biased and inciting.

Do you have any personal sympathies for either the Muslim Brotherhood or the military?

No, the Muslim Brothers claim that it’s a war on Islam while the military on the other side claim that they’re fighting terrorism. Both of them are using this propaganda to justify the use of extreme violence.

Everything is not clear right now and that’s why I only stand for the values that we called for on 25th of January 2011.

(All photos: Aly Hazzaa)