In a highly polarized and divisive media environment, a number of actors and Culture Minister Mohamed Saber Arab held a press conference last Tuesday seeking to clarify the truth of what's happening in the Egypt for the Western world. The conference followed a number of similar efforts by the interim government, which has been highly critical of Western, and particularly American, interpretations of recent events, which generally paint the military-police establishment of taking Egypt back to the 1990s era of violent crackdowns and a calculated, political marginalization of Islamists.
talked to a number of actors and filmmakers at the event, including director Khaled Youssef, who made a point of saying that the conference was directed at the people of the West, not their governments, who he stressed had their own personal interests in mind.
Actress Elham Shaheen said she came to try and show that a true war was waged by the Brotherhood against art and freedom of expression during their year in power. The attempt at "Brotherhoodizing" the cultural sphere affected Shaheen personally, as the actress was the victim of a vicious series of attacks by an Islamist television cleric in 2012.
Actor Sameh el Serity said that the goal of the press conference was to request that the people of the world stand with Egypt against terrorism, echoing the black-and-white narrative of Egypt's current military rulers.
Meanwhile, revolutionary graphic artist Ganzeer told Ahram Online, "Egypt never has and has not yet to respect human rights. Also, in the statement, the minister places a condition on respecting human rights. That the state will only respect human rights if protests and sit-ins are peaceful. That statement is a very sad one to hear from a government official. Human rights are not conditional. You either respect them or you don't. It's apparent by that statement that the Egyptian government has made a conscious decision not to."