Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Square - extra credit.

The square is a documentary film directed by Jehane Noujaim. This documentary brings to light the ongoing revolution in Egypt which began in the summer of 2011. The film focuses on Tahrir square in Cario, Egypt, where a majority of the protest/revolution took place in the form of sit-ins. The revolution initially took place in-order to remove the dictator Hosin Mubarak. When Mubarak took office he put a state of emergency in Egypt which brought forth insane and extreme laws which basically took away the basic rights of Egypt's citizens. Once Mubarak stepped down, the military took control who instead of helping made things worst & so did the other president Morsi.This film has many strengths and a few weakness. The biggest strength of this documentary is how the  filmmakers takes their audience in to the epicenter of the revolution and provides raw footage of the sit-in. The film makers also do an amazing job at providing raw footage without editing the violence, blood and brutality of the military against the people; giving a sense of how intense things were at Tahrir square. The only weakness I thought the film had was that it didn't shed light on the history of how all this mess began, I was a bit confused at the beginning to why the revolution was happening. The use of technology by the protestors played a crucial part in showing the world the awful conditions of Egypt.

After doing research on whats's happening in Egypt today I found that their current president ,Abdel Fattah el-sisi, has started to abuse his powers and has became a dictator. He has complete control over Egypt controlling the media, army and other basic services. This is the third president after Mubarak stepped down, who claimed he would change things in Egypt but instead made things worst. Egypt condition has improved alittle since the summer of 2011 when the revolution started but a lot still has to change and improve, making the revolution ongoing.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Square Extra credit

Part 1

The documentary "The Square" by Jehane Noujaim follows the events of occupation of demonstrators the Tahrir Square in Cairo Egypt. The start of the documentary follows around the people who are occupining Tahrir Square. The reason for the occupation is that the people feel the their government is corrupt and in particular there leadership is corrupt. So they have gathered with the goal of getting the dictator Hosni Mubarak. After some time in the square they were able to get Mubarak to resign. After his resignation the protesters began to clear out of the square feeling that there job was complete. They later returned to the square because they realized that the job was incomplete and wouldn't be complete till their corrupt government was fixed. The army then decided to use force against the protesters to remove them from the square. This incident involved hiring thugs to get inside the square and cause a riot to remove the protestors. Once the army had control of the square the Muslim Brotherhood made a deal with the army to use the square to spread there their beliefs. This lead to a split in directions of the protestors, the ones who supported the Muslim Brotherhood and the those who didn't. The events that this came after this were a presidential election where the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi won. The election was controversial due to the fact that the candidate were Morsi and Ahmed Shaflik who a large potion of the population didn't want either. After the elections Morsi declared himself pharaoh. His rule proved that there was still corruption in the government. The people began to call for a temporary government and for reelections to be held. Later that year the peoples cries were heard and Morsi was forced out of power and reelections were going to be held.

Part 2

After the events that were shown in "The Square" there was much that needed to be change and the reelection to be held. After Morsi was taken out of power the Muslim Brotherhood began to deteriorate. Incidence began occurring where Brotherhood members were being killed. The first incident killed 51 supporters who protesting outside of a military base where Morsi was believed to be held. The worst of the incidents involved over 900 supporters being killed while police and soldiers were cleaning out a camp of the supporters. The situation in Egypt has changed enough that the Muslim Brotherhood has been banned by the courts of Egypt.

Social media played a big role in the Egypt revolution. The start of it was on Facebook after someone saw images of someone who was beaten to death by police. He then made a Facebook page to bring the incident to light. This page had 300 people join it in 2 minutes and had 250000 people join after 3 months. He later was on television where he broke down crying after seeing photos of what had happened to people who have been killed during the protests. Social media has also played a large role in the protest in hong kong where they are using social media to communicate with each other to setup the protest.


The Square Review- Lilyan Eldadah

The documentary, The Square, directed by Jehane Noujaim, started off with the quote, “The lights are out all over the world.” This quote was very powerful and stood out to me because it was implying that, while Egypt had no electricity, this was not the tragedy. The bigger problem was the world being shut out the real, full truth of what was happening in the all over the world.  Noujaim did a great job of explaining and showing what was happening in Egypt, that was not being shared through social media, information that was being hidden from the public.

Egyptians have been fighting for social reform for over thirty years and Noujaim, grouped with many other civilians, came together to help show what was happening, risking their lives at certain times, and making difference in the society and friendships along the way. Hosni Mubarak, the original dictator, became the new ruler of Egypt when the former ruler was murdered; he then continued as the ruler for over 30 years. At first he did not allow others to run against him and that is why he was “re-elected” every election. In 2005, he allowed people to run against him, but won the election by a landslide, and it was thought that he rigged the votes. (“Profile: Hosni Mubarak.”)

Civilians were outraged and started to protest in January 2011 to show all the wrong that was being cover up by Mubarak, including the imprisonment of several innocent people. One of the most popular places to protest was Tahrir Square, a place located in the middle of the city where civilians’ voices were heard. Around the spring of 2011, Mubarak stepped down, but the protests continued to gather because Mubarak’s people were still ruling Egypt. As the summer of 2011 approached, the protests started to become very violent because the military arrived arresting hundreds to thousands of protestors in cruel ways. I was actually in Cairo, Egypt the summer of 2011 with my family, and several times when we walked out into the streets there were protests happening. Knowing that Mubarak had stepped down I was confused on why the protests were continuing to happen and this documentary helped me understand more about the problem. When I was in Cairo, there were military tanks and trucks on almost every corner of the streets, soldiers fully dressed in uniform, guns strapped around their waists and a gun over their shoulder; it looked like these men were about to go fight a war against the enemy when really they were fighting their own civilians. It was scary being there at that time, but I knew it was going to be beneficial for me because I got to see, hear and feel all the emotions that the civilians in Egypt were having that most people in America could not.

The protests became hectic when the military stepped in, killing and injuring hundreds, and the Muslim Brotherhood who was supposedly with the protestors and against the military actions, were making promises with the military. “Good and free people are being called traitors, and bad people are being called heroes.” Military cars were running over the peaceful protestors, shooting at them, spraying tear gas at them; instead of a revolution, Tahrir Square turned into a war. The people began to feel alone and hurt. Instead of the army fighting for the civilians, the military was fighting them. The new election was against Morsi, from the Muslim Brotherhood, and another man who was part of Mubarak’s government. Morsi was elected president with 51%, and the people decided to give him a chance, but shortly afterwards, Morsi gave himself unchecked powers, giving him more power than Mubarak. This enraged the protestors causing more problems. Civilians reunited at Tahrir Square to begin again, and this time it was bigger and louder protests; in fact, one new source says that it could have been the largest demonstration of a protest ever. At the end of the documentary, it ends with “Our voice is our only weapon…we are looking not for a leader, but for a conscience.” Noujaim directed this documentary mainly so Egypt’s voice, which was being blocked out by the media, could finally be heard.
The use of technology played a huge role in keeping the protests going. They used big sites, such as YouTube and Facebook to upload the actions taking by the government and military against the innocent civilians. This helped the Egyptians’ voices be heard not only in Egypt but also all over the world. The strengths were listed above, including graphic images and videos of what was happening, a detailed step-by-step information of what was going on, etc. A weakness about this documentary was it did not seem to have enough information on how Hosni Mubarak managed to stay in power for so long, and what Mubarak was doing wrong. The documentary assumed that everyone watching already knew the background story of what was happening with Egypt’s government, when in fact, a lot of viewers might not know, and it could lead to a lot of confusion. Another weakness was the fact that this documentary was not translated in English, but only in Arabic and in Spanish. The fact of having to watch an hour and forty-five minutes of subtitles got boring quickly, and since many kids have short attention spans they would probably stop watching or fall asleep faster since they had to read subtitles.

The current ruler of Egypt is Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, and he took this position in August. Both Morsi and most recent former ruler Badie are in jail. Also, the charges against Hosni Mubarak have been dropped and he was freed from jail, after being there since imprisoned in 2011. Not much has changed or improved in Egypt, protests are continuing to happen and while al-Sisi claims that he is a ruler, his actions scream dictator.  Conditions have improved in Egypt from the time when the revolution began, but still need a lot of enhancements to better Egypt. As each new leader is elected, each one of them has abused their power and ignored the civilians’ rights.  Egypt has been unstable ever since Mubarak was kicked out, so any leader who takes his place is given so much power, and this power can very easily be abused, and that is why it is hard to find a leader who will not abuse this power (Smith).

I decided to research Ai Weiwei to compare where else we see social media playing a prominent role for people who are trying to record abuses and/or promote alternative ideas. Ai Weiwei is a political artist in China who uses his artwork to directly criticize the Chinese government and express how the way the government is treating their people is unfair. Ai Weiwei records himself and people around him as he is on a continuous stream through Twitter and Instagram. Weiwei gives the persecutors what they want, and he gives them no way in editing and changing his words to use against him since he is always streaming. Using his artwork and himself, Weiwei is helping stand up to the unfair government in China. “Both are merged in an ongoing performance in which the man has become the art, and the art is the man,” says Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore, a British journalist who has published in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Ai Weiwei has a studio with his pieces displayed, full of sculptures and paintings that portray how he feels toward the government. Also, his continuous posts on social medias such as Twitter and Instagram help him increase awareness and show the world the reality of events occurring in China. Weiwei has been beaten up and arrested by cops for unjust reasons, just like protestors in Egypt and he showed it publically and had recordings to prove to the world that was the media was telling them was not the truth, which is very similar to how the protestors in Egypt used the media to portray evidence.

This piece is named He Xie. It is 3,000 hand-painted porelein carbs Weiwei created for the river crab festival. “He Xie” means river crab but demonstrates the diction of the Communist’s slogan for harmonization, which is an understatement for censorship. This is one of Weiwei’s many sculptures that he used to try and portray a message.

Overall, besides having to read subtitles for almost two hours, I really enjoyed watching this documentary because it helped me understand the problem occurring in Egypt that it did not fully understand. Also, I feel like this documentary is very eye opening to all those who take the simple things, such as freedom of speech and rights, for granted. Since, Americans automatically get those rights, most of us forget that we are luckily born with them, while some people are risking their lives fighting for those simple rights. For all those who watched this documentary, including the ones who did not like it, I think they all learned something new, and may even feel different about the privileges of being a United States citizen. Below is my work cited and the links to the cites I used if any of you would like to check them out! :)                                                                                                                                          


"Profile: Hosni Mubarak." BBC News. BBC, 29 Nov. 2014. Web. 09 Dec. 2014.
Sebag-Montefiore, Clarissa. "An Interview with Ai Weiwei." Aeon Magazine. Aeon
             Media Ltd, 2 May 2014. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.
 Smith, Lee. "Viewpoint: Egypt’s New Leader Is Unfit to Rule |"Ideas
            Viewpoint Egypts New Leader Is Unfit to Rule Comments. Time, Inc., 20 Aug.

The square review.

Part 1)  Courage, That is the word that kept running around in my head as I watched. I cannot really imagine the courage it must have taken to stand up against a regime that had used torture and violence to such extremes in the past. I decided to take my review in a slightly different direction. Instead of discussing the things that we all could see in the film, the stuff that others will discuss, I decided to talk about deeper meanings. I think this will provide another layer to our understanding, if we take a look beyond the obvious.  One of the things I noticed was at the beginning; when Hosni Mubarak was giving the speech directed at the protester just how calm he was, even when threatening them. To me that speaks to the total corruption of his character, someone who has had absolute power for so long and has abused is so really has no need to fear anyone or anything, and that shows in his confidence. In their fight, the protesters were united against injustice and tyranny. Freedom has such a powerful pull on mankind, throughout history much blood has been shed in the pursuit of freedom.

       I liked how they kept moral up with songs and chants. Music is very powerful and it was nice to see that they took advantage if it. It is much easier to get people to sing and chant when they are fired up, and the result is that people have to take notice. I think that is one of the best things about these protests, it made the world stop and take notice of what was happening. I don't think That could have happened quite like it did without social media and You Tube. The threats were very real, I think it is interesting that they were more afraid of leaving Tahrir square then staying. The secret police are a totalitarian regimes best friend. They black-bag and torture people and are one of the most effective ways that a dictator can rule with fear. I enjoyed the film, but not because of the film itself; what I enjoyed the most was seeing just how much power the average person has. We may not feel it all the time, but we all have the power to do things like that if we are set to a great enough purpose.

Part 2) This film and the whole situation reminds me a lot of the movie "V for Vendetta". Near the end there is a protest against the corrupt regime, the main character has one line that I think really fits the whole idea of protesting injustice when he says that " Ideas are bulletproof" I think that this is very much the spirit that the youth had while they were in Tahrir Square.The idea was justice and freedom, and in the end it was just too much for Mubarak to stand against.  One of the things I found in my research was that Tahrir square is also called " Martyrs Square". This is very much inline with what we saw in the film. People died there, they died fighting for a better life for their families and the promise of a better future. I also found it interesting that there were several cases of self- immolation during the protests. That is a recurrent thing in protests in eastern world, most often in Asia and it is a very powerful statement. It was also interesting to learn that the success of this revolution led to another one in Tunisia that overthrew another long time tyrant.

    The situation improved after Mubarak was ousted. There was a constitutional review later in 2011 and the first true elections in most of the protesters lifetime. Most of the protesters demands were met. However not all of them were, some were promised and are ongoing, others simply never came about. In 2013 The country went back into a period of uncertainty when Mohammed Morsi was ousted. It seems that Egypt will be stuck in this type of situation for the foreseeable future.  I think it is just too easy to abuse power with the current situation being what it is, unstable.

       One of the greatest assets that the protesters had was social media. They were able to organize and gain support in a way that wasn't possible a decade ago. Social media is being used in the current protests in China as well to much the same purpose. In this concrete example social media made it all possible. They were able to spread the message and share it with the world in an instant. With out it I doubt they would have been successful. Without social media I think it would have been difficult to show enough support to make it work, this would not have worked with just a few dozen people. Mubarak would have been able to crush a few dozen voices without trouble, but a few hundred thousand cannot be silenced.

I decided to research Joshua Wong and his contributions to the Hong Kong protests in 2014. I wanted to learn about him because he is the same age as we are and doing such amazing things. He founded a movement called Scholarism that basically is all about pressuring the government to affect change. They have been labeled an extremist group by the Chinese government. One of the things I learned about him is that he has been at this for quite a while. When he was 15 he fought against communist indoctrination classes in the public education system in China, that was when Scholarism was born. The main point to take away from his story is that youth has power, and even the most unlikely of people can make great changes if they are really passionate about it. His is truly a inspiring story.

Grant Trainer - The Square Extra Credit


"The Square" is an amazing documentary that tells of the events that have happened in Egypt while the revolution is taking place. One of the biggest ideas or events in the film is the sit-in, or more rather multiple sit-ins, that occur in Tahrir square. The people flood in and occupy this area with the intentions that they will not leave until their demands are met. After removing the original dictator from power, Mubarak, another one rises. This dictator is Morsi who is with the Muslim brotherhood. The Muslim brotherhood rises by exploiting what is happening in Tahrir Square. I think that this film has many strengths and few weaknesses. The first and biggest strength: it is a legitimate cause. This isn't just some mindless problem that people pay attention to even though they should not. This is a serious problem that people are facing. The problem of their rights being taken away and something big needs to happen in order for changes to be made. The importance of this issue makes this film much more interesting and impacting because it is a serious issue that needs a serious answer and solution. Another strength of the film in my opinion is their approach. The creators of this film do not work to just slander and destroy the name of the people the revolution oppose but instead works to convince you of their views and actually get you to see why they are fighting. The creators also do a very good job of making sure that they do not leave the cruel, violent, disgusting things out that the dictator and army do but instead do no glorify the blood, but the actions and intentions behind these actions instead. They continue to preach their cause and not violence. Another big strength of this film is that by giving you a view inside to the people who are actually protesting and the people who are actually being abused and beaten for trying to gain their freedom, the film helps to build a sense of empathy. We begin to feel for these people and to feel their pain. We begin to want to help them. One weakness of this film would be that I do not think they give us enough insight on the countries history and how it came to be at the point it is today. I think it would have been helpful to have more history of the country and its religions and groups in order to better understand what is happening.


After researching online to find out information on the state of Egypt today I found that their struggle still very much continues today. They are currently ruled over by President Abdel Fattah el-sisi. Although his title says president he is definitely a dictator. Sisi rules over the country with complete and total control. This means he has control over the army, media, goods, services, and much much more. Although the people still call for change today ad conditions have improved since the start of the revolution, there is still a lot of work to be completed and progress to be made. The biggest problem the people face is finding a leader that when elected and put into power, will not abuse it and work towards fixing their own agenda. Egypt is a country that has made many many huge changes in the recent past but who also still has many problems. Problems they are working towards fixing and changing, but that will take time.

Opinion of the film: I enjoyed this film extremely and think it did a great job of opening up my curiosity to the issue and giving me some insight on it. I think it was very well put together ad beneficial to watch. I recommend that you continue to have future students watch it and hope they enjoy as well! Thanks!

The Square- extra credit assignment.

The Square was a documentary, directed by Jehane Noujaim, about the evens over the last few years in Cairo, Egypt. There have been a lot of riots and protests, along with a lot of violence. The biggest of these places to protest, by far, is Tahrir Square. People believe the best place to go to voice their opinions in Egypt is Tahrir Square. Located in the middle of the city, it is a place flocked to by people to protest. In the documentary, the events over the last few years are recorded in detail. Beginning in January, 2011, the oppression of the people by the military, and the government leaders, in particular the leader Mubarak. By the spring of that year, Mubarak is removed from power, however, the oppression continues. This is because his people are still in power. As protests in the square continue off and on over the months, by summer of 2011, things get much worse. Thousands of protesters have been arrested, and the military is stepping in, making things worse. On top of this, the Muslim Brotherhood is acting like they are with the protesters, but are actually only with them for their own interests. I big problem throughout this documentary is that there is always a struggle for elections to exist, yet there are no parties, and no one knows anyone to vote for because the place is in such chaos.
“Good and free people are being called traitors, and bad people are being called heroes.”
The chaos is so real, and there is so much anger and confusion in this place. People feel as though they are all alone. The army that is meant to help them is hurting them. One man, when interviewed described, “Our army is killing us”.
Later on in 2012, Morsi, with the Muslim Brotherhood, is elected president. He soon gives himself unchecked powers. This only adds to the tensions between the Muslim Brotherhood, and the protestors.
One thing to note throughout is, the use of technology plays a role in this ongoing protests. Leaders tell people to use websites such as to show the world the injustices done here, and the urgent need to help Egypt. In this way, the people of Egypt can have their voices heard all over the world.
However, in 2013, on June 30th, one year to the day of Morsi’s term, the protests are beyond anything ever seen. One news source says that it is perhaps the largest demonstration of a protest ever. The people get what they want, but at a cost.
A voice tells how, “The people pay the price for everything. The people always pay the price.”
As the documentary concludes, one of the narrators ends with, “We are looking not for a leader, but for a conscience.”

For today’s news, I found something from the New York Times. “Egypt’s New Police State” by Sara Khorshid, posted on NOV. 16, 2014.

As I was reading through, to see changes over time, this part in particular stood out to me.

“This is worse than the situation under Mr. Mubarak, when only state-owned media adopted an unwavering pro-government editorial policy whereas privately owned media were more open to diverse views.”
In the article. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the current president, is a dictator without limits. He controls the media, the basic goods and services, including things such as electricity, and so on. He is oppressive, and has put many political opponents, journalists, and civil rights’ activists in jail.
The biggest challenges in Egypt today are, that he people want change, but they do not have a face to turn to. Every time a leader is selected, that leader only works on his own personal agenda, and so nothing changes.
However, I do believe there is a chance for things to get better. I say this because, the optimism and determination of the people who want change in Egypt will not lay down, or give up.

Here is the link to my source, check it out here.