Echoes of Tiananmen in Egypt protest camp

These images of a woman standing between a bulldozer and an injured protester in Egypt quickly spread across social networks on August 14, with many viewers reminded of the celebrated photo from Tiananmen Square of a lone man standing in front of a column of tanks during the 1989 protests in Beijing.

An Egyptian woman stands between a wounded youth and a bulldozer during clashes in Cairo.
AFP Photo / Mohammed Abdel Moneim

NOTE: This blog was updated on August 15 to add the AFP photograph showing an army member talking to the woman.

Cairo-based photographer Mohammed Abdel Moneim, who freelances for AFP, had a feeling something big was going to happen when he arrived at the sprawling Rabaa al-Adawiya protest camp in east Cairo early Wednesday morning.

The atmosphere was tense, and protesters for Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi clearly were on edge after security officials had spoken of a gradual dispersal of the camp and another in central Cairo. Still, the dramatic raid of the camps shortly after dawn came as a surprise to many.

The authorities’ decisive clear-out operation led to scores of deaths and injuries.

As Moneim worked among the chaos and bloodshed of the operation, he spotted one woman – a bystander – who was pleading with officials for restraint and trying to help the injured. When she saw this injured young man lying on the floor, she stood between him and the path of an army bulldozer, imploring the driver to stop. It’s impossible to say what would have happened had she not been there, but the bulldozer stopped and the woman was able to talk to an army officer.

The woman tries to stop a military bulldozer from removing a barricade.
AFP Photo / Mohammed Abdel Moneim

The fate of the young man is not certain, but at the time of taking these photos he was seriously injured having been shot by birdshot.

The woman bends to help the wounded youth.
AFP Photo / Mohammed Abdel Moneim

In this final image, taken by another AFP freelance photographer, the officer is seen talking to the woman. The photographer said the bulldozer continued clearing the area without hurting the injured man and said the officer had been listening to the woman and trying to help her. The photographer also said the young man was taken to the hospital, though it's not clear how he got there or what became of him.

A member of the Egyptian security forces talks to the woman. AFP Photo.
AFP Photo