Heliopolis- Part of Processions to Ittihadeyya

Heliopolis- Part of Processions to Ittihadeyya

 

 

To my brothers and sisters in Rabaa & Nahdha

 

Al Salamu ‘Alaikum wa Rahmattu’llahu wa Barakatuh

 

I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it is shameful that innocent lives were lost in this holy month of Ramadan. I doubt if anyone in Egypt, or the caring and loving brothers and sisters in the Arab and Muslim worlds can say that they enjoyed a ‘complete’ Ramadan this year. Regardless of who is to blame- I ask you, must it go on?

 

I’m sure you’ll agree with me that most of those who invested into formulating this colossal mess are safe and untouchable whether behind an army of human shields, or in a fortified bunker watched over by security forces. I’m sure you’ll agree that innocents and those that are easy-to-trust and act are those who perish, for regardless of anything else, they have no one to speak up for them or fight for the cause that to some of them meant their lives, while for those pulling the strings it was no more than a timely strategem- easily traded off for future or more immediate gains.

 

If you’re still reading then I will dare to venture further.. I’m sure that deep down inside you, you know that Morsi did not embody anywhere near your aspirations and dreams for Egypt when change did finally arrive with the Jan25 Revolution. I know, you know that he wasn’t fair, and dealt heavy blows to our beautiful religion by turning the word ‘Islamic’ into a trademark they branded with purely-commercial projects as a sign of corporatised-religious-verification. I think the majority of Egyptians have good intentions, it wouldn’t be worth living in if I believed otherwise. Yet the system, both locally and globally, have tried to force upon us this notion that ‘everyone is corrupt’, everybody has a skeleton in their closet, nobody is pure- well though that is very much the case, anything you may have done is in reality nothing in comparison to how those leading innocents to their deaths plot and scheme. Compared to them, you are a gem that had some dust blown on to it, which whenever you choose, can be blown right back off.

 

Do you not see that Morsi was not interested in really furthering any of the demands of the revolution; ‘Bread, freedom, Social Justice’, dignity for Egyptians? And please realise that justice does not mean improving the state of some groups within society and giving them power over us all, justice is justice. You may say that he inherited the problems of his corrupt predecesors, Mubarak and Tantawi, yet still you would know that he did nothing to really change them; he used the self-same unjust tools for the same personal ends, or the ends of the Brotherhood by proxy, and simply led Islamists to believe that he was working on some mad-scientist ‘Islamic’ project, while he tricked masses into believing that his decisions which temporarily aligned with the demands of the revolutionaries, were to further the demands and not because of a coincidential alignment. For example- his getting rid of Abdel migueed Mahmud who the revolutionaries and reformists have been crying their hearts out to topple yet were getting nowhere as he was the Prosecutor General that would soften the blows on the deep-state and hide the evidence that would incriminate or reveal the true extent of corruption and criminality, the Brotherhood just got rid of one ‘power-loyal prosecutor’ to replace him with Talaat Abdallah who would be loyal to them. It was not to bring about an independent and just and reform-oriented prosecutor. If you have doubts, then ask yourself, hasn’t the brotherhood made the self-same alliances Mubarak made in instances to further their goals and domination over Egypt. In all honesty, do you even know what the true intentions of the leaders of the secretive brotherhood? Do you even know who’s paying for the party? How can you so blindly sign away your fate and that of others based on some wishful imaginary image in your head that can in no way be substantiated because the consistent pattern of events that this image is fictitious and a manipulation is overwhelming. Do you truly not see that they were simply a mutated direct continuation of the injustice suffered under Mubarak- with a different spin, mask, flavour, and no real substance, with a totally foreign cotext to Egyptians as a whole? Do you blame those who took to the streets on the 30th or those who defended them because they stopped the brotherhood from furhter destroying Egypt, its identity, its oneness. Egyptians have been generous with their knowledge, wealth and tolerance for millenia; always having searched for truth and shared it with others in Pharaonic, Coptic and Muslim times.  We have been a most important chapter in most prophets’ lives, and mentioned repeatedly in Abrahamic scriptures, which is my fundamental irk with anyone claiming to represent the truest-of-true-totally-100%-straight-to-heaven-guaranteed religion, I believe they are trying to force ALL of EGYPT into a miniscule box, that is but a minute fraction of its true worth- simply because Egypt is so much bigger and more sacred.

 

You know what.. let’s cut the BS.. you have been conditioned without knowing all the facts, and so have the majority of Egypt. Problem is- right now, with the final minutes of fasting, all calls to defend and be merciful to you, despite your merciless actions and strategies, will be off- and rightly so. We have put up with your terror, destructiveness, while you used this time to further scheme and undermine the nation’s abilities- to the point where the majority of the population truly believes that you are the local-end of a much bigger international-conspiracy to take Egypt down a bloody spiral, meant to change it’s identity yet again by damaging its oneness. I beg you, you, all of us will go and believe me Egypt will remain. So please come to your senses and save yourself from washing your hands in the blood of your brother, and save your brother from washing his hands in yours…

 

Al Salamu ‘Alaikum

Minassa - Unknown Soldier Monument

Minassa – Unknown Soldier Monument

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday July 26th 2013- 9.00 pm…

 

Today has been a brilliant success for the military, the police and the people of Egypt against the Muslim Brotherhood and their cronies; these fascist and oppressive religion-labelers with their one-vote-one-time-for-all-time rhetoric and their decades old pull-power, secret networking, sleeper cells and agents and network of money-might. A reality-check for the Muslim Brotherhood and its sister and daughter organizations, its strong and soft arms, who aim to terrorize the Egyptian people into submission to their alternate reality where daily life becomes even more of an obstacle race, where breaking whatever law they come up with, becomes in certain instances, punishable by torture and death- as demonstrated by their choices, when allowed to rule over the traffic intersection in Rabaa alone.

 

And if you add to that mix the inherent corruption- you get Afghanistan.. or Iraq, or Palestine, or Libya, whichever, take your pick.

 

Hardcore fundamentalism, weapons in the arms of pseudo-official groups, mob-rule and then it pretty much goes to shit from there.

 

That – to an unbelievable degree of accuracy- seems to be the extent of US-Zionist imagination for the Middle East and Islam- as has clearly been demonstrated by areas that came under their control or sphere of influence.

 

Friday July 26, 2013- the Army and Police have, like on the 30th of June, and July 3rd managed to protect the millions that have hit the streets; whether it be the millions that have hit the streets country-wide in refusal to be terrorized, by saying no to the Islam-eques that would label anyone not following their exact brand of religion a heathen or kafir, the aware peoples of Egypt who stood refusing the twisted, cancerous, elastic pseudo-moral grounds upon which these fake-sheikhs found their incitement to violence against others, to a point where their violence becomes random. The army and police also managed to protect those who were quick to support the Army following General Abdul Fattah El Sisi’s call. To counter the numbers and processions of the Islam-esques, to mirror their true following in contrast to the general public- namely all of Egypt. The Army and Police were even keen to protect those inciting to violence- the Muslim Brotherhood and their cronies who stand in defiance to the millions and seem intent on blood and violence; crowds of them who hope to restore their power by proxy through Morsi and his so-called ‘legitimacy’. And though reports indicate that five have died thus far in Alexandria, they also indicate they were all clashes between the people- pro and anti-Morsi, and that neither side have made any accusations against the Military or Police.

 

Yet the problem is- that usually this indicates the calm before the storm, these are the times when I worry most, as whenever the Brotherhoods’ momentum seems to be hitting a slump or slowing down- presto, a new event occurs to reinstate their image as victims and martyrs for a cause. When they themselves are far from peaceful, or victims and their demands are far from legitimate, to the point that in many processions you find the crowds chanting ‘la ya Sisi, el morshid howwa ra2eesi’ [no to Sisi, the morshid of the brotherhood- Badee’ [one of Morsi’s bosses]- is my president]. So it’s no longer about Morsi, or the legitimacy of the ballot-box [that was overruled by even bigger numbers in a transparent referendum where millions demanded that Morsi no longer stay in office, that they would no longer function under the selfsame corrupt system in place since Mubarak]. It was simply about El Korsi- [literally-chair] the throne of power, and not Morsi. And it was also about the reaping of the gains of Mubarak’s corrupt system, using the self-same tools, while undermining even the most basic principles of how a state should function. Throwing efficiency, accountability, discourse, diversity, completely out of the window, while maintaining arms , releasing convicted terrorists whose loyalties can be guaranteed, and consulting and aligning with foreign powers- such as US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson and representatives from Turkey, and of course Qatar, to evaluate future tactics against Egypt’s state institutions and population if they should ever retaliate to this injustice and treason. Of pursuing an agenda to which the Egyptian people were not invited.

 

Turkey alone has been outspoken about its outright disapproval at the ousting of Morsi and his ‘democratic legitimacy’, even hosting the Emergency Summit of the International Muslim Brotherhood Body days after the ousting of Morsi this July 14th to 17th. While repeated shipments of machine guns and shotguns and ammunition made and imported from Turkey have been seized since the conclusion of the summit, with the importer being a leading Muslim Brotherhood figure. This is besides the continuous war of words sanctioned by Erdogan against Egypt’s leaderships and people, for ousting his fellow secret-handshake partner Morsi, and moving to build and salvage Egypt. What neither Erdogan- whose days of oppression and double-talk and secret agendas seem to be numbered- as the free people of Turkey rise against his unjust practices as well, nor the corrupt pro-Mubaraks/ Feloul- who see this as a golden opportunity to reclaim power and fool/terrorize the Egyptian people into submission to their self-same, obsolete security-state-random-governance, nor the Islam-esques with their mutated, monstrous depiction of our beautiful religion and what it truly calls for, none of these seem to understand that the people of Egypt had a dream, and though the idea was not clear at first, yet with every injustice, every martyr, every prisoner, and every lie and mask that falls, the picture gets clearer, and more of us learn the word to our song. This is the last chance for all parties involved that have taken the Egyptian people for granted, belittled them, disrespected them, sidelined them and their legitimate demands.

 

After the call for the masses to hit the street, and after a firm ultimatum of 48 hours, the Army has tried its best throughout the course of the day to at least appear to be extending a hand, throwing leaflets to the protestors in Rabaa that basically said ‘let’s forget about the whole thing and just go home and we will carry out conservative prosecutions to leaderships and those indicted in violence and killing’. The army even threw flags at them from a helicopter. A strategy that may have saved many lives. To communicate to a substantial portion of those in Rabaa intersection; that are brainwashed or told lies or given much-needed money  to add to the numbers, becoming human shields to Muslim Brotherhood leadership puppet-masters, and fodder for their war-machine to strengthen their negotiation position with the government and army, through contriving bloody confrontations that can later be manipulated in sympathetic world media, or those who pursue a similar agenda for the time being. Even more despicable is that there exists numerous videos of different incidents where members of the Rabaa protestors shoot other pro-Morsi protestors to ‘get things going’, inflame the pro-Morsis into carrying arms and attacking the fortified security ranks, in a clear case of suicide-by-army-or-police.

 

This is the first time since at least the ousting of Mubarak, if not decades, that Egypt had an intelligent leadership, especially in such a critical situation. Thankfully, a main area of Sisi’s studies in the States.

 

Yet in reality the coming days and how they are handled hold even more of a threat, will the Army, the police, and the people manage to live up to the moment, as the MB and fundamentalists try to raise the heat against a government and a majority that will not operate under Morsi and ultimately his brotherhood. This is under the light of the security forces’ understanding that they may go home today, yet foster violent aspirations. They may even say they have shed violence, yet it seems that once you’ve crossed that line, it is very hard to refrain from resorting to violence to enforce views that aren’t even necessarily yours.

 

So now that the military has woken up the Egyptian people from their sleep, will they choose to educate Egyptians and involve them and help them grow into a democracy of fairness and enlightenment and themselves become prophets of a new age for Egypt, or will they lie to us again and make martyrs of those who dare to tell the truth? Was Sisi’s call to show the outside world that Egypt is defiant to those that threaten to turn its coptic-muslim duality to a uniform bearded grey that relies even more on who you know and associate with than any real sense of justice. Or was it to wrest political power once and for all from Tamarrod that successfully voiced people’s aspirations? Already comparisons to Gamal Abdul Nasser are being heralded, and even educated people seem to be hypnotized by a rising Sisi phenomenon to a point where their convictions transcend logic. But the answer lies ultimately within Sisi’s own heart: after the well-meaning people of Egypt have trusted him with their lives, livelihoods, and trusted him with even the yet-unknown and undisclosed Egypt treasures and true wealth, like El Sokarri mountain of pure gold, and after he has been given millions of fans, on top of Egypt’s army might and 40% of Egypt’s economy and its land, what will he choose to do with them?

 

 

 

Saturday 27th 2013, 1.00 pm…

 

Waking up to the news that since I last looked tens have died and hundreds injured, I wondered why things had to be this way? Why every time things seemed to calm down somewhat some party would become invested in inflaming the situation. Like we are never allowed to live a moment of peace, or catch our breath to build anything. We always have to be grieving. Perhaps a punishment for daring to rise?

 

Is nothing sacred anymore you power-hungry, blood-thirsty, megalomaniacs? Well I can’t even pose the question to your ignorant or pseudo-educated polishers and enforcers, they have already sold their souls to you and your every command. Not Ramadan, or God’s spoken sanctity of blood, or even Egypt’s reputation and future could deter them from giving us this despicable outcome.

 

After Egypt enjoyed a day that though tense, and prodded along with a constant fear that some monster lay lurking round the corner, Egypt still overcame and saw a large part of the Egyptian population, regardless of how varied their intentions, answering Sisi’s call to protect Egypt against terror and those that would commit random acts of violence against Egyptian society. A day that, internationally, saw the American congress confirm that this indeed was a popular revolution backed by a national army to salvage the remains of Egypt, and not a coup.

 

Yet as always there were those invested in inflaming the situation, to further a personal or institutional agenda.

 

At the early hours of Sunday the 27th of July, clashes erupted between pro-Morsi supporters who seemed headed to block 6th of October bridge, raising fears that they would spill oil and cause chaos as they had done a day earlier on the airport bridge.

 

The Ministry of Interior says that the pro-Morsis were bent on cutting off Al Nasr highway and 6th of October bridge ramp, then they clashed with police and residents of nearby districts- Mansheyyit Naser, Dweiqa etc. With- according to Interior ministry’s release- pro-Morsis starting with rock-throwing, to which the ministry says they responded with tear gas.

 

Fact remains that conservative reports document that casualties are in the vast majority pro-Morsis and over 80 have died due to these clashes and over 200 injured- mostly by gun ammunition fire. One police officer passed away in hospital a day later after being shot in the head.

 

The current Minister of Interior, Mohamed Ibrahim, seemed similarly eager to please and use excessive violence under Morsi’s leadership, and we’re talking about this selfsame year, in 2013 alone; such as how he chose to handle the unrest in Port Said [following the verdicts and sentences issued to Port Saidis accused of Al Ahly club massacre in Port Said in 2012,  the massacre which happened during the reign of SCAF, and in which the court ordered the chief suspect of the police to investigate and relay the names of suspects he came up with to the judge and prosecutor based on HIS investigations]. And now again Minister Mohamed Ibrahim immediately calls for the reinstating of the terror-security system that used to spy on everyone- ‘The Division for Tracking Religious and Political activity’ in the defunct ‘Amn Dawla’ that was abolished after the 25Jan Revolution.

 

 

Question is- why did the police ignore the build-up of outrageous crimes associated with Rabaa, until the population and the residents, were charged against them to the point that they would soil their hands during the holy month of Ramadan [one of the Hurrum months- where blood and war is to be avoided at all costs, and the most scared of them] and the residents or ‘civilians’ would seemingly take part in events to ‘clear’ these Brotherhood violators.

 

Why wasn’t the law and its framework utilized by the proper legal channels- namely the prosecution and the police- from the second that suspicions, followed by outright declarations that were clearly not-peaceful- if not plainly categorized as inciting to violence- voiced on Rabaa’s podium? Then with the daily-emergence of torture cases? And all the corpses that were uncovered?

 

The police would simply give a heavy knowing sigh, and say ‘Yes, it’s Rabaa alright’ and do absolutely nothing.

 

Why did it necessitate that the army step in when the police had only helped fear, anxiety, apprehension and revenge to grow by doing nothing to serve and protect and process complaints and obvious crimes?

 

The police like every other corrupt institution in Egypt, needs a complete overhaul; from the criteria upon which civil servants are chosen, to what is instilled within them during their years of learning and gaining experience. When you’re cooking for someone you love, you take extra care that each and every ingredient you use is absolutely perfect, that no fruit or vegetable looks clean on the outside but in reality is rotten to its depths…

 

So what are you going to feed Egypt this time?

 

 

 

Dawn of May 5 - After the events at Abbasseya...

Dawn of May 5 – After the events at Abbasseya…

 

 

 

 

Image

And the Academy Award for Best Actress Goes to ….

In its first, reportedly rigged, beauty pageant ever. SCAF & The Supreme Elections Council is set to announce the winner from two finalists picked in the first round (also reportedly rigged). In a ‘competition’ whose rules were laid out and ultimately directed by SCAF, the Egyptian people have picked their candidates mostly out of fear and not hope-  a clear indication that the revolution and its ideals and dreams have lost their weight with time. Now besides the Islamists & ‘revolutionaries’ in Tahrir, another thousand-heavy group, albeit smaller, seems to have formed in front of the Unknown Soldier monument. Shaped as a pyramid-frame, it faces the stands where Sadat was assassinated by Islamists. Another location embossed on World consciousness, like Tahrir. Now the 2 groups stand with only Ghamra, Abasseya and Ramses between them. While the masses are paralyzed with fear that when the presidential prick is named it will unleash the gates of hell, as the 2 groups may set Egypt on fire if they bridge the distance & decide to clash.

Where is SCAF, or where are ‘The Honest Citizens’ – Al Mowatenein Al Shoraf’aa – at a time such as this?? Why don’t they suddenly ‘appear in Abbasseya as they have done time & again & prevent any chance of bloodshed??

Allahum idhrib al thalimeen bill thalimeen.. (literally a defeatist prayer that bears no call to action that says ‘God please cancel the bad guys out’ like some sort of cosmic mathematical equation, with ‘bring us safely out from the midst of them’ as an immediate follow-up) this may not be enough this time to save the day.. maybe some action is required of you today of all days, even in just voicing your opinion on the web or twitter and influencing people that seem combustible with a message of PEACE?

YOUR CHOICE, YOUR EGYPT

All You Need Is Love…

Falling into Oneself

Posted: June 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

Produced by Cimatheque 2012

Format: 16mm black & white

Duration : 3:40 seconds

Produced in Analogue Zone Workshop Cairo May 2012

Concept & Story : Islam Safiyyudin Mohamed

Starring : Hana El Bayati

Music : Alan Bishop & Sun City Girls

D.O.P. : Tarek Hefny

Cinematography : Tarek Hefny & Islam Safiyyudin Mohamed

Digital Editing : Stefan Heiniger

Analogue Editing : Islam Safiyyudin Mohamed

Directed by Islam Safiyyudin Mohamed

Using the lightbox while making my 1st rough-cut [photo: Michel Balagué]

Like much in Egypt these days the taste of directing my first film was bittersweet. A product of the 6-day workshop ‘Analogue Zone #1+’, most nights I would end up leaking at the eyes; every time I remembered how sweet it felt… followed by how bitter & cruel it would be to have that snatched away on July 17th – if the Egyptian Judiciary would decide to falsify its conscience yet again and bend it towards the police’s version of the story…

To make media sacrificial lambs of myself and the 378 other free spirits- who are being accused by the Police and the Prosecutor General of all the phony charges imagined by the police against ‘those arrested’ [or more aptly- 'those used to fill in the blanks'] in Tahrir in November [aka : events of Mohamed Muhmoud]. And like many of the other ‘sites’ or groups of events that we have committed to memory in the past year and a half-  it’s usually a ‘site’ where more martyrs are tallied, and where more crimes are committed; such as Maspero, Port Said, Occupy Cabinet, Abbasseya.. And like any crime thriller B-movie: you always need someone ‘who dunnit’, a person to pin the crimes to, [this person/group 'who dunnit', and the crimes they dunn, is sometimes even 'suspected to be perpetrated by security forces'- when we're lucky enough to have caught it on film], otherwise any unsuspecting passers-by will do just fine so the police can pin these crimes on them. Thus it seems the police, the prosecutor and the judiciary have decided to join forces-creative and otherwise-  in pinning these charges on us 379 unsuspecting souls, probably  in a sense to politically condemn us and make an ‘example’ of us to herald the ‘new order’ of things after the Presidential elections

.

Well I pray that all 379 of us stay free on the 17th of July and the days to follow, and I pray to be able to continue making my films after discovering how sweet it feels..

Along with the training and support of such beautiful people as the wonderful crew at Cimatheque, as well as the amazingly talented co-participants who enriched every day of the 6-day workshop,  I have been blessed to have so many people I love & respect involved in making ‘Falling into Oneself’…

Bless you all & please know that I am forever grateful for these magical moments and shall cherish them always…

Format: 16mm black & white

Duration : 3:40 seconds

Produced in Analogue Zone Workshop Cairo May 2012

Concept & Story : Islam Safiyyudin Mohamed

Starring : Hana El Bayati

Music : Alan Bishop & Sun City Girls

D.O.P. : Tarek Hefny

Cinematography : Tarek Hefny & Islam Safiyyudin Mohamed

Digital Editing : Stefan Heiniger

Analogue Editing : Islam Safiyyudin Mohamed

Directed by Islam Safiyyudin Mohamed & Tarek Hefny

Produced by Cimatheque 2012

[special shout-out to Michel Balagué : we miss you O mighty analogue master : )]

‘Falling into Oneself’ 1st rough-cut [photo: Michel Balagué]

A few weeks earlier in April I was commissioned by Ekko, the leading Danish film magazine, to write a feature describing the independent film scene following 25 Jan 2011. The feature was translated to Danish and published May 7th 2012.. This is the draft of the English…

Rising from the Ashes: Independent Egypt

Pt I: Setting the Scene

In every town in Egypt, Egyptians had arrived at the end of the line with Mubarak’s regime. After 30 years of an abusive relationship that went only one way-the regime’s way- they took to the streets in every governorate on the 25th of January; the day commemorating policemen- the hammer Mubarak used to strike at Egyptians.

Egyptians realized that they deserved better, that the human being was worth much more than the way their government treated them. And though lives were lost, and intense firepower, arrests and violence drove them away, they returned, and in bigger numbers.

Mubarak exited the picture leaving his soldiers to handle Egypt’s affairs almost unquestioned. The first to run to the side of Mubarak’s Military Council were the Muslim Brotherhood, breaking rank from Tahrir square in search of wins in a political game that established this council as ruler supreme. They kept quiet even as more Egyptians got massacred in 14 months than all of Mubarak’s years of rule. And they did win; an overwhelming majority in Parliament. Only when Egyptians witnessed the inaction of these Islam-esques [those using Islam as political podium] in parliament, did they start paying more attention to calls that a deal had been struck, and that Egypt is hijacked by a small circle that had sacrificed a few past key figures for a symbolic retribution to absorb the anger of the masses, and that this circle simply grew bigger to include the ‘Islamists’ without any real change or intentions to bring about the change that the masses had called for- Bread.. Freedom..Social Justice.

Now the military council has managed to throw Egypt into chaos, seemingly in the hopes that the circus they create may ensure a safe exit. They used tools such as live ammo, running over protestors in armored vehicles, swift military trials, control over media, raising fears of Islamists home and abroad, and an economy driven to the ground, to control and steer Egyptians back home, confused and doubting everything and everyone.

At the end of May Egyptians are expected to choose a new president, a decision that for many will most likely be influenced by fear. Not hope.

And like everyone else, thinkers, writers and storytellers are afraid for Egypt and what the military council and Islam-esques may turn it into.

Like every sector in Egypt cinema is going through a period of confusion;  we’re waiting for those in control to make up their minds what kind of country this will be so the people can start figuring out whether they can work with that or maybe have to take to the streets again.

We find hope in first-timers like filmmaker Maggie Osman who’s film was shot totally without permits, or Adham El Sherif, a 3rd year cinema student’s film ‘One of the City-Dwellers’ Ahad Sukan Al Madina stars a street mongrel and portrays a complex spectrum of emotions through a canine protagonist. These efforts no matter how valid are fearfully still dust in the wind…

To tie it all together; the corruption, the blocking of new talent that doesn’t abide by the commercial system and bureaucracy. The fact that new youth other than weathered independent filmmakers are brave enough to take to the streets with their cameras and make films and project their ideas without caring about permits and the whole commercial system is phenomenal- as it gives voice to the voiceless.

But still the fate of this wave remains unclear as the commercial system’s fate itself is in doubt and unclear at the moment, in anticipation and in lieu of different political scenarios.. like perhaps the army continuing its hegemony, or the Islamists gaining presidential powers on top of their parliamentary majority and reshaping all of Egyptian culture, or could it be that remnants of the old regime are able to clench and reclaim power, or perhaps even the masses somehow managing to shake all that off to take back their voice and their media, at the very least in terms of elimination of corruption, reliability, accountability, transparency and quality of content. The aim should be to allow for new, real space and the culture/mind to savor the different modes of expression that exist outside the regime, corrupt commercial and bureaucratic structures.

Pt. II: Storytellers

Omar Shargawi is the director of Ma Salama Jamil which won the VPRO Tiger Award at Rotterdam Film Festival ’08, My Father From Haifa awarded 2 prizes at Dubai Film Festival, and 1/2 Revolution one of best films made on Egypt’s uprising. Omar is currently working on his latest film Kairo.

Ibrahim Batout won the Golden Hawk in Rotterdam in ’08 with his movie Eye of the Sun, and has just finished his film Winter of Discontent which is set during the final days of the revolution.

Ahmed Abdallah’s film Microphone is the winner of Carthage Film Fest and is currently working on his new movie Farsh w Ghata.

In the gleaming desert sun Arabia is famous for, director Omar Shargawi sits at equal parts from the sea and the Sinai Mountains. Nothing breaks the silence of this the first hint of summer other than the waves and the occasional camel riders or Bedouin ladies selling souvenirs…

Omar: I’ve been away from Egypt for some time so I wouldn’t say I have an optimal picture of the situation on the ground but I feel things are the same. Still the same film syndicate in control, still censorship, still the same rules apply.

I fear the worst; an ultra-conservative government that will make it even more impossible to make movies than it is now.  I believe the next 3 months will prove instrumental in how Egypt will take shape in the future, down to how Egyptian cinema will become.

We’re all a bit nervous because we don’t know what the situation will be like once a new president has been elected.

Hundreds of kilometers away at his home in the Cairo Nile-island of Zamalek, director Ibrahim Batout leaves the latest youtube video of the ongoing protests playing, as he slips into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. He sits down and proceeds to make a cigarette, lights it and takes the first breath as he joins in on the conversation… 

Ibrahim: The presidential elections are a big scam because I don’t see the military stepping down or giving up power, or working towards a system to establish democracy. Alone the decision allowing religious parties to be formed is a great indication. Just as the massacres that followed since Mubarak left [such as the massacre at Maspero where 45 Copts were killed by the military] are another indication. The number of massacres since Mubarak stepped down far exceeds the massacres committed in all Mubarak’s years of rule.

The regime engineered this system whereby either we allow it to continue unquestioned or we fall into chaos.

Since the 70s the regime has put the political Islamists on a leash to fight against the socialists, communists, leftists and liberals. This has depleted the country’s political reservoir and now the only people left organized are the conservative right wing.

We will have this ongoing game of politics and power where right is fighting left and left is fighting right, while we are losing objective of what we are aspiring for.

The struggle for artists and those seeking freedom of expression will now be more intense. Before we were fighting a regime that didn’t want the truth to come out, now we have powers that want to shape truth on their own terms- namely those using religion as a tool to further their politics-they are showing us where their minds are hoping to go, whether they succeed in that or not remains to be seen.

In another part of Zamalek sits young director Ahmed Abdallah at a 2nd floor table of one of the many cafes. He recently collided with the new order of things when he was denied filming a scene inside a mosque- something that was still permissible under Mubarak…

Ahmed: It’s the same struggle we had to go through during Mubarak’s regime. Even the bureaucracy instilled in the film sector is still the same. All they care about is permits and papers, not about art or helping filmmakers create something new. [He starts stirring his fruit juice in the long glass with his straw] Before the revolution I counted the steps necessary before having a final permission to film on the street. They were 31 steps; some of the steps take you 30 minutes like writing out a request or having it stamped, while other steps may take as long as 4 weeks, such as censorship where you leave your script and weeks later they call saying come and take your script it’s been authorized.

Omar:  But not many movies are being produced right now and maybe that’s a good thing, coz most of what comes out of the commercial Egypt is really a waste of time in the sense of Egypt being the 3rd biggest production country in the world.

I believe half the people in the media business in Egypt should be put in jail [smiles] along with those who have committed massacres against the people. I think so because this is a way of suppressing the people, a way of poisoning, brainwashing and keeping people in a coma.

They need to open up and let people make their movies, else what did the Egyptian people fight for?

Ibrahim: Money is controlling the whole world and money is controlling media in Egypt like everywhere else. Also I don’t think film has any role to play in our society for the past maybe 20 years, since Gulf money has been highly involved in producing cinema in Egypt. They have taken films where they want to go: mindless consumerism and aimless comedies.

Also money is being directed to the big brainwashing machine- TV and you can clearly see that all TV stations are manipulated and ruled by businessmen. So we’re locked in a vicious cycle where it takes us a giant effort to learn about something, or form our own opinions, or think freely.

As for the guy struggling every day for his daily bread, it’s very difficult for him to form his own opinion in the middle of this very efficient brainwashing system.

Big capital has a big interest that the past regime continues managing the country the way it has been managed before and they play their cards accordingly to bring that about.

Omar: There’s so many stories to be told in Cairo, in Sinai, among Egyptians, among Bedouins. Every day in Cairo just going to buy a pack of cigarettes, I feel like I’m being part of a movie, anything can happen. It’s never boring. Taking what is supposed to be a 10 minute taxi drive, I experience more than I do in a month in Denmark.

[sighs]

and the people trying to tell these stories I feel have been suppressed by this corrupt commercial movie business.

Ibrahim: It’s very clear that those living around us in monarchies like KSA and the Gulf states do not want the revolution to achieve its goals, since it’s a clear indication to their countries that they can do the same, and they want to remain in power. They have a lot of money and they’ll be investing in whatever counter-wave to the revolution to make it fail. That’s what they’ve been doing by pouring money on the Salafis & Muslim Brotherhood, who spent incredible amounts of money on the elections.

If Israel considers us an enemy nation then it is in their best interest for Islamists to rise to power and govern society [such] that we remain underdeveloped.

Like the GCC it would scare them more if the revolution succeeded because that would mean facing a strong Egypt, and this they will not allow to happen.

Enemies of the revolution are: 1. Mubarak’s regime 2. His Military Council 3. Religious Parties 4. All those benefitting from the corruption we were in 5. Those who cannot think differently

Ahmed: Now we have I would say hundreds of new talent interested in making films. In the last year alone I can count over 50 new filmmakers directing films. Others are acting, or shooting or doing something else, talent we would have never heard of if it wasn’t for the revolution and them taking to the streets with their cameras.

What is most important is that finally they have found the time to speak their minds and tell their own stories. Lots of stories are not revolution related, but still are in the sense that finally these talents are coming out and starting to make films.

Omar: What needs to be done is for somebody to start picking up on those people, like for example in Denmark we are very privileged because they make an effort in trying to spot talent. They invest a lot of money in training and developing these talents- which is amazing. I believe in many ways Denmark is much more Islamic than so-called Islamic countries because they try to help and it’s what a government should do. If you invest in your citizens you invest in building a great society to live in, be a good example for others, and make it a life worth living.

But when that is said, I think there is much more talent in Egypt than in Denmark, of course it’s a much bigger country. But Egypt used to attract artists; a Mecca of intellectuals and artists from around the world, and I feel Cairo still has that power. But people are so suppressed now. Because here in the Arab world intelligence, wisdom and the power and ability to open peoples’ minds and give them an opportunity to use their free mind and free spirit- all these things are suppressed in this part of the world. Because free thinking and people that ask questions are a threat to these governments. All the regimes in the Arab world are like families having power over their countries just for their own [personal] benefit. Any Egyptian government treats the population like it owns the whole country, and people are just slaves put in this world to obey them and their needs.

Even since before the revolution I could see a great deal of potential and talents who were, from my own opinion, working on great projects. I wish there was a way to organize this and make it possible, at least in the sense of not having a government that is working against you so that people may have a chance to succeed.

Ibrahim: Seeing Egyptians take to the streets on the anniversary of the revolution shows how Egyptians will fight for their rights and not give in easily.

Revolutions are realized and lessons are learnt as they are happening, that’s why I think we’re still in the process of revolution.

Especially with the younger generation of revolutionaries growing up and gaining more influence. With 67% of our generation below 30, this makes me optimistic- so we have hope insha’Allah.

Sorry your ID number is not permitted to vote

Text message reply from 5151: Sorry your ID number is not permitted to vote…

Shortly after sending a message containing my ID card number to 5151 [the short-number released as a service by the government to help you locate the: school> committee> sub-committee where one should vote & also holds the voter-list with your name & ID], the reply from 5151 signalled on my phone [be-beep...be-beep].. ‘Sorry your ID is not fit to vote’ was the literal translation..

ambigio-surreal choice of words

When we were released [with many an apology for 'the mixup'] after our abduction from Tahrir last Nov 19.. i came to discover that i was not allowed to vote in the Parliamentary elections ..

https://literaryrevolutions.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/vote-not-allowed/

https://literaryrevolutions.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/we-shall-not-forget/

Text message reply from 5151: Sorry your ID number is not permitted to vote...

Text message reply from 5151: Sorry your ID number is not permitted to vote…

Text message reply from 5151: Sorry your ID number is not permitted to vote...

Text message reply from 5151: Sorry your ID number is not permitted to vote…

Text message reply from 5151: Sorry your ID number is not permitted to vote...

Text message reply from 5151: Sorry your ID number is not permitted to vote…

Text message reply from 5151: Sorry your ID number is not permitted to vote...

Text message reply from 5151: Sorry your ID number is not permitted to vote…

Text message reply from 5151: Sorry your ID number is not permitted to vote...

Text message reply from 5151: Sorry your ID number is not permitted to vote…

Now again.. i find that i am not allowed to take part in voting for the Presidential  elections this Wednesday & Thursday [23rd & 24th of May 2012]

I would have given my now-discredited voice/vote to Hamdeen Sabahi

Leaving the Tunnel - Hamdeen Sabahi

Leaving the Tunnel – Hamdeen Sabahi

From the tone of the case papers & the 'anything goes' approach.. the accused may have already been convicted as a media sacrificial lamb & as yet another attack against Tahrir & its goers...

From the tone of the case papers & the ‘anything goes’ approach.. the accused may have already been convicted as a media sacrificial lamb & as yet another attack against Tahrir & its goers…

Yesterday a government employee rang our intercom telling my mother that he had court papers for a criminal case filed against me & 378 others in the events beginning November 19, popularly known as the events of Mohamed Muhmoud…
****

Dawn of May 5 - After the events at Abbasseya...

Dawn of May 5 – After the events at Abbasseya…

On November 19th I and around 50 others [including 3 girls & two 14 year olds- that seem to be listed as 16 year olds in the new case papers] were abducted by security forces from Tahrir, and its neighboring areas and sidestreets.. only hours after the Egyptians witnessed the despicable scenes of security forces piling up bodies of Egyptians in heaps of garbage [mostly those injured in the 1st 18 days of the Egyptian uprising that were continuing their sit-in in Tahrir and violently attacked by security on Nov 19].

Video starts with 2 thugs going through pockets of the body [probably for valuables & Identification] then a soldier approaches body again to go through pockets another time at 1.16 to 1.24

You can find my personal account and testimonial to the events of Nov 19 up until our release on the night of Nov 21 here…

https://literaryrevolutions.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/a-certain-case-of-egypt/
After over 50 hours of incarceration in a security camp on the outskirts of Cairo, we were told we were to be released immediately and unconditionally. The officers seemed genuinely apologetic and kept trying to distinguish themselves as ‘good cops’, asking us repeatedly over the period of our incarceration to set them apart from the ‘other officers’ who had abducted us from Tahrir and the neighboring downtown streets, and proceeded to beat, torture, abuse and frame us with unfounded charges.
It seemed that these cops in Abdeen & Qasr El Nil precincts had a 2 to 3 hour window to carry out orders to round-up a certain number of people to be accused with trumped up charges, and who would be presented to the Prosecution the next day as the perpetrators who had burned a police truck in Tahrir, and wounded security personnel. As well as little pickings such as illegal congregation, destroying public property and working to destabilize the country.

Once they had the required number of youth and protestors and innocent bystanders to be presented as the accused, they piled us up in police trucks and sent us to where we would be ‘held’..

Using a SIM card that the police had not found with one of us, and a mobile phone from another, and a battery from a third, we managed to start making calls to let people and parents know that we were being used to ‘fill in the blanks’ as the notorious and mysterious ’3rd Party’ to be charged with whatever BS the police would claim to justify the violence they had committed against the people earlier in the day..

I told those placing calls that in all probability we would be taken to C28 [the military prosecutor] in Asher in Nasr City.. For some reason it was decided that we would not be held there and in fact we were the first batch of youth abducted from Tahrir that would not face a frank military trial in C28.. they would pretend to charge us under a Civil Prosecutor. Later we would all become convinced that it was SCAF pulling all the strings..

Hence, our Nov 21 release when they thought it best served their interests and that it may have a calming effect on the public outrage at the situation in Mohamed Muhmoud Street.

…And NOW SCAF [or rather the 'Civilian Prosecutor'] formally charging us when they felt it was OK to pick up what they had originally intended to do- crush the revolution and any person[s] harboring or advocating that mindset. Or even anyone caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, to further discourage the masses of having anything to do with Tahrir.

For the record I have never lifted as much as a stone in the face of security. It is a personal belief and choice that in no way belittles those who choose differently. I naively believe that our peaceful approach is our most potent weapon; the flowers we bring, knowledge, love & truth are IMO the shortest route to an Egypt where we all finally understand how we’ve been had..for decades, realize where we truly stand, and then begin to build a new fairer, more compassionate reality based in truth and not lies.

Well I haven’t carried any stones, but I have used a camera and words..

If Tahrir hadn’t risen for the injustice of the 19th of November; be it the deaths of those injured during the revolution and throwing their bodies in the garbage, or be it for the revolutionary figures and members of the media that were being systematically and methodically targeted and eliminated, some of whom lost their lives while some fell victim to the MOInterior’s new strategy of targetting the eyes [such as Ahmed Harara, Malek, Rasha Azab and many others], or even be it for us who had been abducted from Tahrir and downtown and accused of trumped up charges- INJUSTICE WAS RAMPANT EVERYWHERE & had Tahrir not mobilized in Mohamed Muhmoud, there came a moment when we might have actually been shot and thrown in the desert as stated in my account of the events of the 19th.. or at the very least we would not have been released -not after 50 something hours or even 50 something days..

When they released us on the night of Nov 21 [around 8.30 pm]- they simply opened the door to our cell in Al Salam Security Camp and told us we were free to go, along with their apologies for this ‘BIG misunderstanding’ and how at such a critical point of our country’s history mix-ups were to be expected, how obvious it was that ‘we were in fact the youth who fueled the revolution’, and that we should not hold this mix-up by their colleagues against them.

SCAF had already announced hours earlier [around 4 pm] that they had given orders for our release, going as far as actually stating that we had already been released.

I should have known that we’d been had when days later I found that my vote was disallowed in the first round of the Parliamentary elections, as can be seen in these earlier posts

https://literaryrevolutions.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/vote-not-allowed/

https://literaryrevolutions.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/we-shall-not-forget/

And Now…

31 Pieces of Paper

On May 12 a government rep rang and made my mother sign for the receipt of a copy of the ‘Amr Ihala’ [Case to Court Transfer Papers] accusing me and 378 others. I will try & summarize the absurdity of the charges brought against us…

The case notification copy received was in 31 pages, most of which are the numbers and names and addresses of the accuses.

Page 1 starts with the Case Number and Sub-Case Number [does this indicate a systematic persecution of the revolution?], and that Abdeen & Qasr El Nil Precincts and in turn the ‘Civilian Prosecution’ were filing this case against us, followed by the name of the judge specifically assigned to this case [Qadi Muntaddab] named Ahmed Abulaziz Abdulmigued Qatalan.

Qatalan in Arabic means ’2 kills’.. as he is twice our killer:

Once for committing his name to such a shameful document in the first place..

And a second time for in all probability suspecting that this mix of charges is concocted, knowing that the many of the 379 names had been freed with apologies ‘for the mix-up’, yet to turn around and charge them still…

Not very honorable your honor.

Under the judge’s name in bold it says :
‘After reviewing the documents and what has transpired within them in investigations, We Accuse :’

 

Then for the remainder of the first page and for another 27 full pages it lists the 379 accused with their age and home details.. Like I’m 299, says my name, 35, Medical Student at Qasr El Aini & my address. Each page is stamped & signed.

On Page 29, after fitting the final 4 names of those accused, the Legal Irregularities begin :

[continuing from bold on Page 1]…

‘ That they committed from the period of November 19, 2011 to December 1st 2011, in the jurisdiction of Abdeen & Qasr El Nil Precincts, in the Governorate of Cairo


 First :- All the Accused

Major Point : Before we get any deeper, let me just point out that every name on the list is being charged with every accusation dished out by these 2 precincts and the prosecutor from Nov 19 to Dec 1, regardless of whether they were in Tahrir or not, in police custody or not, or anything else that would make it a physical impossibility to commit said crimes on said dates ! For instance protestors who threw rocks at the Ministry of Interior on the 20th when I was already in Police Incarceration, their accusations are being added to mine, as mine are added to them, and every accusation leveled against any protestors in the days to follow until Dec 1st is shared by us all, regardless of time and place of arrest, and subsequent release!

So anyone the officers of those 2 precincts managed to get their hands on in those 13 days is being given Judge Qatalan’s bonafide stamp of thuggery, the very essence of what is destroying the heart of our nation- as will be evident from the breakdown of the colorful charges.

First :- All the Accused Congregated, along with unknown others, with the intention of committing violent crimes and attacks on ‘Men of Public Power’ [what does that really mean??]
رجال السلطة العامة
..and especially that they [the accused] were carrying weapons and tools to induce death and injuries, which they did commit, to thus fulfill the intention and result they were seeking through their congregation, which they were fully aware of

 

The following crimes :

 
1. Used, along with unknown others, force against Public Employees and Persons Delegated with Public Service, to obstruct them- without their use of their personal right to refusal of work- preventing them from carrying out and fulfilling the obligations and tasks of their jobs.

 
This was due to the fact that they carried firearms and blade weapons, and other instruments designed to induce death and injuries. That they assaulted the officers and police personnel entrusted with securing the location of the Ministry of Interior and the Governmental buildings in its vicinity, thus preventing them from protecting these structures using firearms, blade weapons, incinerating devices and rocks, which lead to some casualties amongst them [attackers?] and the injuries described in the medical reports, which did not fulfill their intention as is evident from investigation papers.

2. Inflicted with premeditation, along with unknown others, on the Police officers and soldiers whose names are stated in the investigation, the injuries described in the medical reports annexed, the injuries which have debilitated them and prevented some of them from performing their duties for a period less than 20 days, while preventing others from carrying out their duties for a period of more than 20 days, as is shown in the investigation papers.

3. Sabotaged, along with unknown others, premeditatedly Public Properties and Buildings assigned to Public Services such as the vehicles of the Ministry of Interior, the Building of the Tax Authority for Abdeen & Qasr El Nil, that they broke into it and destroyed almost all its contents in the manner described in the investigation papers.

4. Deliberately Placed, along with unknown others, in non-habitable buildings and not designed for habitation, being the Tax Authority Building for Abdeen & Qasr El Nil, that they threw incinerating devices at it containing flammable substances (gasoline), thus committing arson in the manner described in the investigation papers and the forensic evidence report.

5. Destroyed, along with unknown others, property used for Public Service (the cars owned by the Ministry of Interior), by throwing rocks at it and setting fire to one of the cars destroying it in the manner described in the investigation papers and the forensic evidence report.

6. Destroyed, along with unknown others, premeditatedly private properties and funds by bombarding the buildings, shops and cars described in the investigation papers with rocks and incinerating devices which resulted in substantial monetary loss and placing peoples’ lives and their security in danger, and this is in the manner described in the investigation papers and the forensic evidence reports.

7. Possessed and they had on their persons and without permits firearms [غير مششخنة الماسورة]with an ?illegal? non-striated barrel?

8. Possessed and had on their persons ammunition used in firearms that they are not permitted to possess or have on their persons.

9. Possessed and had on their persons blade weapons used to attack personnel, without permit or legal justification, or an occupational need or necessity.

Second :- Accused Number 9

Possessed and had on his person, with the intention of personal use, narcotic pills of the drug (Tramadol) in a situation other than those approved by law.

 

Therefore.. we hypothetically would have broken such and such laws as is evidently alleged in pic below…

Crimes we may/may not have allegedly committed in our dreams
AND THUS
[actually they double-underline it too]

 
And after reviewing chapters 158, 159, 160 of the Criminal Penal Code We Order :


 First :- To Transfer the Case to Cairo Criminal Court and to The Court of Cairo Appeals According to the Texts and Elements of Accusation


 Second :- To Assign Lawyers whose turn it is to defend the accused, and submitted with this order is a list of evidence
[none that I'd seen]

 

Investigating Judge :
His Honor/
Ahmed Abdulaziz Abdulmigued Qatalan
14.04.2012

 

Out of the 379 accused, out of my group of 51 detained on Nov 19 I remember clearly there were two 14 year olds [who have transformed to 16 year olds in the case papers], the 3 females in the case papers are the same brave ladies that were taken into custody with us on the 19th…

 

16 year olds – 18

17 year olds – 18

18 year olds – 21

19 year olds – 42

20 year olds – 36

21 year olds – 34

 

So a TOTAL of 169 who are 21 years or younger who are having these unjust charges leveled against them

 

22-25 year olds – 92

26-29 year olds – 58

 

30-35 year olds – 38

 

36-40 year olds – 13

 

41-50 years old – 7

 

51-60 years old – 2

 

Females – 3 [18, 29, 31 years old]

 

Students – 113

 

Non- Egyptians – 1 Syrian [290] & 3 Americans [199, 200, 201]

1 Army conscript whose age was not disclosed

 

 

Incidentally the 3 Americans included in the case papers are the 3 AUC students who were alleged to have been throwing molotovs at the Ministry of Interior from a nearby rooftop.

 

DEAD GIVEAWAY : The 3 petrified students were filmed carrying objects that were clearly alien to them. The WORST part was the MAJOR FAIL when Police Investigators had them filmed with PLASTIC Dasani bottles as their allegedly confiscated molotovs. Everybody knows you can’t make a Molotov out of a plastic bottle!!! It won’t break!!!

American AUC Students Alleged to have Thrown Firebombs [in plastic bottles] uhmmm.. gotta love the spelling for the state of Penny Slovenia : )

 

Another Point : The Prosecutor probably knows that these American students have left Egypt, and their names are probably thrown in to be used if ever SCAF thinks it stands to win points with the public by attacking America [or rather attacking the names/myth of these 3 unsuspecting students] who have already left the country

 

 

All in all it seems to be a shambles of a legal case tossed up to punish Tahrir, not to seek any real justice or knowledge of hwat actually transpired during those days.

From the tone of the papers already it seems that the accused have actually been convicted [along with unknown others, as is evident from the investigation papers]…