Since 2013, when former president Mohammad Morsi was politically ousted in a coup acted out by the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist groups, the military government has dominated and taken complete control over Egypt. In the aftermath, many riots have ensued, entailing violence and oppression. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups, who found each other continually at odds leading up to the coup, have both killed members of the police and military in self-defense.
Late last month, Egyptian judges sentenced 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to a death penalty. One thing which critics found especially alarming about the death sentence is that the trial for hundreds of individuals concluded in only two sessions. Many in the country feel that the trial is a farce, and that the judges are in the financial pockets of their military leaders. The families of those sentenced also feel the same way, but are notably more outraged and grief-stricken over the decision.
Al Jazeera journalists who were in Egypt during the chaos have also been prosecuted and imprisoned. Today, journalists and other foreigners remain stuck in a cage. The mass incarcerations have sparked much anger and confusion from Al Jazeera, as well as other respected news outlets. Al Jazeera has started a humanitarian effort to free their employees, saying that “Journalism is not a crime.” Journalists all over the world have duct-taped their mouths shut and held up signs saying that what they do is not a punishable offense. The campaign has become very popular on social media sites like Twitter.
The 2013 documentary film, The Square, shows how dire the situation in Egypt is becoming. Part of civilians’ everyday life is being extracted from their homes in the middle of the night, sent to detention camps, and tortured and beaten for their beliefs and actions. Police brutality in the country is reaching points rarely seen in modern history, according to experts who have paid close attention to the country for the last half century.
The Square also documents the bitter relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists who occupied the square together. For months, the demonstrations in the square, accompanied with live music performances for protest, was a peaceful process. Many of those in attendance were youths deeply invested in taking control of their own future. However, Mubarak, the former, allegedly corrupt president, had his inner circle hire people from the Muslim Brotherhood to incite violence against police at the demonstration. The intention to this was ostensibly to give the government a reason to break up the otherwise peaceful protests with violent means. At one point during the chaos, the documentary film shows a large military truck running over a young man, crushing him to death.
The new military-backed government of Egypt has been accused of showing no mercy for anybody in its path; dominating and engaging in widespread killing; young and old, man and woman. According to reports, the police are raping women and men to silence their political beliefs and to oppress their everyday lives. The police and the government have allegedly invaded the homes and lives of many dissidents, wherein the families never see their captured love ones again. Many, if not most, of those that are captured are never seen again. It is believed by many that it is because they are murdered based on information and first-hand accounts from families, humanitarian reports, and the 2013 Oscar nominated documentary The Square. Many people in Egypt want to do something about the current situation. However, the military government, and Abdul Fattal al-Sisi, who is running for president, have dominated every aspect of everyday Egyptian life. The overwhelming feeling is that the oppressed no longer have the wherewithal to express their ideas and art freely without being violently cast aside by the society they tried to overthrow; evidenced by reluctant interviews. In Egypt, if people are even seen talking to journalists or reporters, many believe that it could spell out their end.
Opinion by Tyler Collins