Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Egypt's Youth Mark Anniversary with Calls for More Changes

January 25, 2012

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak from power. But, rather than celebrating, the country's idealistic youth are taking to the streets once again to protest military abuses and the army's continued hold on power.

Mustafa Kandil is standing on a traffic island in Cairo, tying a screen to the base of a monument. It's the statue of Umm Kulthum, an Egyptian singer venerated by all Arabs, as she faces the Nile with open arms. Kandil sets up a tripod, screws a projector into place and connects loudspeakers. He looks around. It's still quiet, but the crowd is growing larger. "Take a good look," he shouts, and switches on the projector. "This is our army."

Shaky video images flicker across the screen, showing soldiers kicking and beating protesters, people running away, the dead and dying, field hospitals, morgues and a lot of blood. A general says: "These protesters are troublemakers."

No, says Kandil: "These dead people include a sheik at Azhar University, a doctor and an engineer. Don't believe what the army tells you."

While the ruling military council in Egypt has state-owned television and the newspapers loyal to the regime, young people here have "Kazeboon." The word means "liars," and it's an attempt to refute the generals' propaganda, a grassroots form of government television, so to speak.

The Kazeboon campaign was launched in December, on the day an image of a young woman stripped down to her jeans and blue bra by soldiers circled the globe. Since then Kandil, a 21-year-old dentistry student, has been showing the videos in public spaces, and his activities have been copied by hundreds of others throughout the country.

Although Kandil and the others are often attacked, things remain quiet on this evening. After showing the videos, he and several dozen others march through the streets shouting: "Hey, you on your balcony! The army has killed a sheik, a doctor and an engineer! Tomorrow, it could be you!"