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Timeframes of Resistance: Egypt - the Camera - Determination


Thursday 18th July 2013, 7pm, no.w.here
3 members / unwaged / students
5 full
All proceeds go to Mosireen
Third Floor
316-318 Bethnal Green Road
London E2 OAG UK

Revolutionary film collective Mosireen remain one of the most important and urgent grass roots collectives currently active in Egypt. In this event Khalid Abdalla from Moisreen reflects on the changing face of recent events in Egypt, and wider questions of how to creatively and urgently respond to change from the position of practice. As well as a discussion, this event will include recent Mosireen films and works still in progress.

The shifting ground of a revolution makes taking a position from which to fight for a new order all the more difficult and more urgent. The camera not only sees, it builds. In this event, Khalid Abdalla, whose work in Cairo ranges from film production to alternative citizen based media, to building cultural spaces and performing in fiction, will talk about the changing face of events in Egypt, and different strategies for responding to change from the position of practice. As well as discussion, this event will include a selection of films by the Egyptian media collective Mosireen and a rare opportunity to see extracts from a work in progress - Battle Box, a documentary by Hanan Abdalla and Cressida Trew, about Egypt's first post-revolution elections.

Retweeted reflections by Khalid Abdalla 5th July 2013

A good friend sent me an email asking very simply 'How do you feel about it?' (the "coup" in Egypt)

I feel more good about it than I do bad, which is to say I'm wary.

I don't trust the army. They've killed, tortured, beaten and imprisoned so many people in the last two years, amongst them many of my friends. They've also been shown to put their own economic and political interests above anything else time and again. So it brings me no pleasure to see them at the helm of the coming process, and taking credit for it.

I'm also concerned about the position the Muslim Brotherhood have been put in and the risk of it turning violent in a way that changes the rules of the game. I blame the army for making it arguable whether what has happened is a measure of the Brotherhood's extraordinary failure in government, or a straightforward prejudice against Muslim Brotherhood rule. I would have preferred them to be removed without the army's intervention. I have no doubt it would have happened sooner or later because of how much they abused people's trust by ruling tyrannically under the veneer of a democratic process, not to mention the brutality and bloody minded idiocy that accompanied their hubristic attempts to tailor the state around their own private interests.

Ultimately the backdrop to events is still two competing fascisms vying for dominance. Thankfully, though, fascism in Egypt tends to have its spike blunted by laziness and incompetence. Which is to say we don't have to overestimate the power of Egypt's organised forces.

So for me this is another watershed moment. Every fatalistic idea about the future of Egypt has been broken, and for the first time in the region's history, a so called Islamist government, having come to power, has been removed by a popular uprising. For so many, that was previously unthinkable.

I don't buy the arguments about democracy being trampled because my definition of democracy privileges participation in change over a stale reverence for the ballot box.

Above all, what the last two years have proven is that the Egyptian people are serious about protecting their rights, and fighting for them. Much as it pains me to see military helicopters celebrated in Tahrir and members of the police carried on people's shoulders, while elsewhere in that very square women are being sexually assaulted or segregated into women-only spaces as a form of 'protection' from everything but patriarchy, I am happy that the full spectrum of Egypt's ideological factions have participated in all-out street action and in turn experienced its successes and failures first hand.

Within the popular psyche the process is gradually being articulated as more important than the stops along the journey, and for the first time we have a country in which all the major power blocs have had an experience of being cut down to size. The military is the first to return with a chance to prove that it will keep its tail between its legs. It's a golden opportunity, and I'm not happy they've been given it. I'll grudgingly accept it, bearing in mind the failure of other forces to organise themselves well enough to provide a viable alternative (yet), if, and only if, the roadmap that's been described is kept to and whatever leadership is in place right now manages to find a way alongside everyone else to include the Muslim Brotherhood and other forces within the spectrum of political Islam. I find the overtures we've seen by the army to be selective over who enjoys their social and political freedoms very dangerous.

Beyond the political reading of the situation, or rather at its bleeding heart, I feel deeply sad for the families of the martyrs, because the power balance is such that I doubt their killers will be held accountable in anything other than a tokenistic way - at least any time soon. That really hurts.

I feel great pride though, despite all my fears, because the street has proven once again to be the most powerful harbinger of change through this process - right at the moment when everyone doubted it and had written it off strategically. For me that's the real coup. The other 'coup' that people are talking about will either be over soon enough, 4-6 months max in my opinion is all it can bear, or it will face another popular uprising of equally enormous proportions eventually. Ideally we have a new constitution, a new president and a new parliament before January 25 2014, or at least they're all clearly within grasp.

If something like that happens I'll feel like the playing field has levelled enough for all the different political strategies and definitions of democracy to play themselves out into economic models and laws that represent the meeting of different ideologies as we keep fighting ever more fairly over the coming ten years and beyond. Accountability is winning in the long-run, and so is the participatory process, call it what you will - a revolution, democracy, change. People's bodies are writing the future and not their disembodied voices, which is to say they are daring to be heard not waiting to be given the right to speak. I deeply believe that's the reason that most forms of complacent injustice worldwide are going to have a deservedly rough ride over the coming years, one by one, country by country - but perhaps that's another story.

Certainly it's a long and difficult road everywhere that can't be taken for granted, but experience keeps telling me to be optimistic despite my fears, or rather because I trust that my fears are not just my own, and so they will eventually coalesce with others' fears and articulate themselves into actions that reorder what everyone thought it had been agreed was the way things had to be.

That's more or less the sum of where I am right now, and why I'm trustful of the wider process. Time keeps proving we still have the stamina to get to where we need to, regardless of events and the old order.

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