Review – Egyptian Repression in Back to the Square
The world rejoiced when former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was booted out of the Arab Spring and Egypt was free at last. Back to the Square goes back to the country to find out the situation two years after the euphoria of Tahrir Square.
It is said that Egypt’s revolution is a work in progress. It is a very problematic one at that. Repression still happens as if the leadership hasn’t changed from Mubarak’s regime. More than 12,000 people have been arrested and most of them are tortured before they are convicted by military tribunals.
The documentary is the final entry in Carnegie Mellon University’s International Film Festival. It is made by Petr Lom. It starts with the euphoric atmosphere in the square after Mubarak is removed from office. Then it shows five people who have suffered at the hands of the new regime. It shows that the violence of the Mubarak era still continues and remained unchanged.
Filmmaker Lom features the story of Wally Hosni, a 15 year old horse herdsman from Giza. He sells trinkets and rides to tourists at the pyramids. He is conned into riding horseback to Tahrir, where he is beaten by Mubarak supporters. His story highlights the problem of the poor in present day Egypt that is ignored by international media outlets.
Then there’s Mohamed Sayyd, a 47 year old convict who is let out of prison and instructed to go to Tahrir Square and throw hydrochloric acid on the demonstrators. He refuses and this leads to his recapture and torture by police. He now lives on the run.
Lamiz Ragad is a 21 year old student who is arrested and bullied into testifying against her husband, who is jailed on drug charges. Another female subject of Back to the Square is Salwa Hosseiny, who has been arrested with 20 other young women while they are protesting in Tahrir Square. Her punishment is a public virginity examination.
Then there’s Mark Nabil, a 19 year old computer science student and brother of famous blogger Maikel Nabil, who was sentenced to three years in prison for insulting the military. He is considered the first prisoner in post-Mubarak Egypt.