Thursday, March 28, 2013

Egypt's Unfinished Revolution

By David Luhrssen
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  For most Americans, the Egyptian revolution that began in January 2011 erupted from nowhere—an upsurge of young protestors drawn together by the power of social media. The reality is more detailed. Filmmaker and former NGO aid worker Lillie Paquette brought a camera to Egypt in 2009 and began filming the unrest already in progress.

In her documentary We Are Egypt: The Story Behind the Revolution (out on DVD), the upheaval is shown to have long roots; social networking was a tool that helped forge a movement from material that already existed; and it was only when discontent traveled from the virtual back to the real that history shifted.

Paquette was on hand for one of the trigger points, the November 2010 "shamocracy" election that handed Hosni Mubarak's party a too-generous majority in parliament, but the fissures were already widening in the early '00s as Mubarak jailed and tortured opponents and educated young Egyptians immigrated for lack of opportunity in a society that stifled both dissent and imagination.

Paquette's front-line footage and interviews with participants in the revolution are valuable documents. Given the subsequent power grab by Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, there could be a sequel once the denouement is written.

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