Its top bristling with spikes, and painted in the national colors, the three-meter-(10-foot)-high structure was put up in what the Interior Ministry has depicted as an effort to restore a semblance of normality to central Cairo.
It replaces one of the many temporary concrete walls that sprang up in the district over the past three years. It has been left open so far since it was opened on the weekend, restoring Kasr el-Eini street as a major traffic thoroughfare, but could be shut at a moment's notice...
The Kasr el-Eini entrance is the nearest on Tahrir to public buildings including parliament and government offices...
"They were talking about turning Tahrir into a museum, a place of celebration," said Khaled Dawoud, spokesman for the liberal Dustour Party. "Instead they are installing these ugly iron gates and trying to prevent and ban demonstrations in Tahrir Square itself."One aspect of Egypt's 2011 uprising was use of larger open spaces in cities for mass mobilization that could be capture on camera and become a symbol of the revolution itself. By potentially inhibiting movement around the city and into those spaces, the authorities are trying to remove a tool that could be used against them.
The use of barriers to control space and prevent popular mobilization is also a feature of Baghdad.