I just finished watching The Square, one of the more depressing films I’ve seen. From the viewpoints of a few protestors in Tahrir Square, it depicts the events of the Egyptian revolution from 2011 to last year. It’s well worth the subscription to Netflix; dispiritingly, it hasn’t been shown at all in Egypt.
A limitation that the The Square couldn’t really avoid is that its story is incomplete. It is, after all, about a series of events that haven’t yet finished. General Sisi, who now appears to be at the centre of a military personality cult, shows up for only a couple of seconds towards the end of the film. The Muslim Brotherhood, who (nominally, at least) controlled the country between mid-2012 and mid-2013 and seemed on the verge of establishing an absolute dictatorship, are now freshly outlawed and have been declared a terrorist organisation. The only constant, perhaps, is the heretofore faceless military.
This article shows the state of the Muslim Brotherhood now it is out of power. It’s written from the perspective of the Brotherhood’s young female activists:
“Everybody just ends up doing whatever they feel like, there is no cohesion; no vision,” she added, shaking her head before returning to her monologue and deciding to be safe rather than hungry like her brother, Hamza, who now resides in a 2×2 cell with an unspecified number of people and cockroaches that fly, unable to sit or sleep comfortably. She sees him for exactly one minute a day with an officer present. Some of his teeth are broken and so is his right wrist, she suspects. Hamza, she paused to beam, had tried to convince the police officers, who arrested him, that he was a non-religious, playboy who drinks, smokes and copulates before they did. They gave him a cigarette and asked him to prove it, he let out a telling cough and was summarily given for 15 days pending investigation. “Ah, Hamza,” she sighed.
“Many of (those arrested) have wrist fractures and things of that nature, it’s the handcuffs,” guessed another Sister, Gehad, rubbing hers instinctively. She has been recently released after being detained for nearly three weeks on the charge of “piercing a car roof,” carrying a camera and belonging to a terrorist organization trying to destabilize the country. “[Prisoner treatment] depends wholly on the officers and the jail or department you’re in,” she explained. She, for instance, was lucky enough to fall into the hands of a kind prosecutor, who gave her Nescafe. And she managed to charm the prostitutes and convicted murderers they routinely detain Sisters with, “as a scare tactic,” with her religious knowledge. “They thought that God wouldn’t forgive them, so I recited Quran to them and we prayed together,” she recalled with pride. More importantly, the pregnancy test they forced on her (virginity tests for female protesters — i.e. sluts — caused an uproar, but pregnancy tests have reportedly taken their place) didn’t break her as well because she knew it was meant to, Gehad said, speaking at a considerably higher volume intended to prove she was unaffected by the memory. Others, however, she said, had cigarettes put out in them, and if the corporal she bribed is to be believed, they were also whipped with belts, electrocuted, stripped and made to stand in a room with holes in the walls known as the Tellaga (refrigerator). Other reports of abuse include being forced to clean the police department, sexual harassment, spoiled food and denial of family visits (and harassment of family members and friends who came for them).