The Rabia sign connects people and shows support. How a graphic symbol can create a movement. An essay by Egyptian writer Shehab Awad explains.

It is difficult to contextualize the Rabia sign without finding oneself spiraling almost endlessly back in time to recall the events that led to its conception. This contextualization has become even more challenging given the Egyptian state’s concerted effort to erase that convoluted memory, largely with the help of its media apparatus. Where does one start a story that has no apparent beginning or end?

The Rabia sign is a most conspicuous symbol, and its story is interesting because of the extreme transformations of the sign’s value and signifying power, from first serving a purely utilitarian purpose, to becoming so dangerous that anyone who flashes the Rabia sign (or otherwise distributes or shares it) could risk terrorism-related criminal charges and time in prison.

Read more in BRANDED PROTEST the book.
About Shehab Awad

Shehab Awad is a curator and writer from Cairo, Egypt, where he served as the assistant curator at Townhouse from 2013-15. Recent projects include Publishing Process at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Art, NY; Artists on Art in collaboration with Olana Historic Site, NY; Hiding in Plain Sight at Art Helix, SUArt Galleries, Community Folk Art Center, and Point of Contact Gallery, NY; and A Tardigrade’s Dream in collaboration with Nile Sunset Annex at La Loge, BXL and Beirut Art Center, BEY. His writing has appeared in Madamasr, The Brooklyn Rail, and ArtAsiaPacific.
He is currently Curatorial and Development Associate at PARTICIPANT INC, NY and Archivist for painter David Reed. He holds an MA from the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.
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