Four days ago, at the 5th Yashwant International Film Festival (YIFF 2015) in Mumbai, I watched a tense and poignant film on the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. Honestly, my recollection of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 is sketchy – only bits and pieces from what I can remember seeing or reading on the internet. However, I do remember that it had started on 25 January 2011 – exactly four years ago today – with millions of Egyptians gathering in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other cities to protest against the government of President Hosni Mubarak (who finally stepped down on 11 February 2011).
Reports say it had started peacefully with people of all religions and segments of society marching together, protesting the lack of freedom of speech, lack of free elections, lack of justice, unemployment, inflation, rising food prices, corruption, police brutality… but soon led to clashes between government security forces (who were supported by the military) and civilians, leaving behind over 800 people dead and over 6,000 injured in 2 weeks or so. There were riots, looting and vandalising too – and neighbourhoods had to set up patrols for their own protection.
It’s interesting to note that the film I watched at YIFF 2015, titled Rags and Tatters and made by Egyptian director Ahmad Abdalla in 2013, actually stayed away from the protests, the clashes and the killings in Tahrir Square (now also called Martyr Square) and elsewhere in Egypt in 2011. Instead it focused on the confusion and uncertainty of the people of Cairo against the backdrop of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, following a central character who has in his possession a mobilephone video clip containing evidence of brutality by government forces, which he wants to share with the world while trying to stay in hiding and alive.
Although a film like Rags and Tatters may set the mood for the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 for film-viewers like us across the globe, the on-ground reality and its experience must have been far more dramatic, uncertain and scary for the people of Egypt than we’ll ever know. Yes, the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 did rid Egypt of President Hosni Mubarak on 11 February 2011, but all has not been well for the people of Egypt. After Mubarak’s resignation, the Muslim Brotherhood (the Opposition party) took power through popular elections and Mohamed Morsi became the next President of Egypt in June 2012.
However, Mohamed Morsi’s presidency didn’t last long. There were mass protests by secularists and the military against his government and he was deposed by the Minister of Defence, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi within a year. General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is now the President of Egypt. Past-President Hosni Mubarak, who was given a life-sentence for crimes against the people of Egypt and for embezzlement of funds during his tenure, has been cleared of his crimes and charges against him have been dropped as on 13 January 2015.
As far as the 4th anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 goes, here’s a bit of news from Reuters from Cairo today:
“Two protesters were killed in Egypt and a bomb wounded two policemen on Sunday, the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, security sources said.
The anniversary is a test of whether Islamists and liberal activists facing one of Egypt’s toughest security crackdowns have the resolve to challenge the U.S.-backed government once again.
Security forces have been stamping out dissent in Egypt since then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted elected president Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July 2013 after mass protests against his rule.
Dozens of protesters were killed during last year’s anniversary of the revolt. This time, security forces were taking no chances, fanning out across the capital and elsewhere.”
[Citation: Wikipedia; Two protesters killed on anniversary of Egypt uprising as tension grows by Maggie Fick and Shadi Bushra, Reuters, Cairo, Sunday, January 25, 2015, 8:02 am]