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Egypt: First-person account detailing laser use during Cairo protests

There has been widespread news coverage about the use of laser pointers and laser displays before and during the demonstrations in Cairo against President Mohamed Morsi, in late June/early July 2013.

A new, first-person account from Egypt states that laser pointers were originally used to harass snipers and lookouts using binoculars, and to irritate political enemies. However, the dramatic use of dozens of lasers aimed at Egyptian army helicopters was intended as friendly, being used to “greet” the military who by this time was on the side of the protesters.

(It needs to be noted that, regardless of intent, laser light can flashblind and disrupt pilots. Due to the potential flight and crash hazards, it is illegal in the U.S. and many countries to even aim a laser towards an aircraft.)
This new Egyptian information comes from the man directly responsible for creating the “Morsi - Out - Game Over” laser display seen worldwide on a building in Tahrir Square:

Laser display Tahrir Square Cairo Egypt

While this man is known personally to LaserPointerSafety.com, we are not publishing his name due to the current unstable political situation.

He begins his account by replying to a BBC article about laser pen use at the Cairo protests:

The article (as most of the media) is not quite telling the entire story… here is a report from the field….

The use of laser pointers started already 2.5 years ago, when we tried to irritate mainly snipers shooting at us, or secret service officers looking through their binoculars to guide their ground troops to surround or capture us. Then we used them to irritate our enemies (the Muslim Brotherhood) when they attacked us with stones and Molotov-cocktails.

Recently when the 30.06.2013 protest against the Brotherhood erupted, we didn’t know if the army was on our side or not, so the laser pointers were aimed at the helicopters’ pilot and their cameras to distract them from filming – it seemed it didn’t work and looked like a giant abstract or glowing fish in a dark sea flying over us, specially that the helicopters were flying very low, sometimes only 20m above our heads – you must see it live to understand what I mean (the flying abstracts). My girlfriend filmed it, but I haven’t had the time yet to see it.

When it was clear that the army was on our side, the laser pointers were aimed at the bottom of the helicopters to greet the army (yes, we Egyptians have a different kind of humor).

I kindly ask you not to call the graphics a laser-“show”, it was a laser-”display” or a “laser”-message to our people. It wasn’t my intention to make a “show”. I do shows differently.

The messages were done with
Pangolin LD2000 Pro onsite and the laser was a small compact 8 watt green Kvant laser which allowed us to set it up quickly, reliable and if necessary unplug and run away fast with it as it is very light.

[The BBC article noted that laser pointers were “sold like crazy at the square. Street vendors are all over the place. Anything at the square turns into a trend and a fashion in no time.”]

About the “craze”…. I personally think it is more “crazy” to sell a MP1522 Half-Automatic Smith & Wesson .22 Long Rifle at Wal-Mart then purchasing a Chinese 100mW laser at Tahrir Square – different cultures, different view.

It might be the most famous Laser Display of 2013, but I prefer to do a Laser Show with David Gilmore and Roger Waters on the Pyramids and the Sphinx promoting peace and understanding than doing the Laser-“Displays” I’ve been doing lately….

Another reliable source has told us that after the anti-Morsi laser display described above left the square, a second person came in with a laser projector. He projected advertising and logos, and was shut down and kicked out immediately.