In 2011, a group of young Egyptians organised public film screenings to expose military violence against civilians, writes Hebatalla Taha.
In late 2011, a campaign entitled Askar Kazeboon (Military Liars) was launched by a group of young people in Egypt to circulate information about the military’s “lies”. They aimed to use alternative grassroots media tools, such as screenings of videos in local neighbourhoods, marches and social media to inform the public of alleged crimes committed by the military, such as attacking peaceful protestors. It specifically targeted the unaware and the usually uninterested, who might be easier subjects to government and military-controlled media, which routinely attributed violence to foreign third parties seeking destabilise the nation. Sally Toma, an active member in the Kazeboon campaign, told Al-Jazeera, “The main goal is to get Tahrir Square out of Tahrir Square and into every neighbourhood.”
Kazeboon started as a response to the military’s initial dismissal of widely-disseminated photos and videos of military police attacking a girl and exposing her blue bra – an incident that took the country by storm. The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) eventually issued an apology to the “women of Egypt”. But Kazeboon’s campaign went on to gain popularity including more than 92,000 followers on Facebook and 44,000 on Twitter.
Their public screenings were threatened and attacked, the most notorious and violent example being a screening in Gamaat Al Dowal Al Arabiyya in Mohandisseen. One of their film screenings was banned by the governor in Daqahlia but the ban was publicly defied. Kazeboon was also subjected to violence by SCAF-supporters, many of whom argued that SCAF’s rule was essential to bring the country back to a stable condition.