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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Egyptians Explain Their Return to the Streets

With tens of thousands of protesters again filling Cairo's Tahrir Square and the streets of other Egyptians cities on Tuesday, chanting for the country's president to “Leave!” just five months after he was elected, the mood in the square reminded many of the 18 days of protest that toppled Hosni Mubarak last year.

While the atmospherics are similar, though, the political dynamics are d ifferent, and a group of Egyptian filmmakers is making an effort to explain the roots of the current crisis by posting a series of interviews with demonstrators on YouTube.

The group, known as Mosireen, is a collective effort of activists and citizen journalists who set out to document the 2011 revolution by gathering video clips shot by protesters. About a year ago, after deadly attacks on protesters during the period of military rule, the collective began producing its own reports, hoping to give observers following events in Egypt through the Internet a deeper understanding than can be gleaned from raw footage of protests and clashes.

On the eve of Tuesday's demonstration, one Egyptian protester, Ahmed Hassan, explained the new protests to the Cairo film collective Mosireen.

As my colleague David Kirkpatrick reports, tens of thousands marched to Tahrir on Tuesday to denounce President Mohamed Morsi's recent constitutional decree, in which he granted himself broad new powers. But as an activist and blogger named Mona Seif told Mosireen on the eve of the protest, many Egyptians remain angry that the new government has failed to address the central grievance of the 2011 revolution, the impunity enjoyed by the country's police officers.

An interview with Mona Seif, an Egyptian rights activi st, on Monday.

Just blocks from Tuesday's main demonstration, on a street near the Interior Ministry headquarters in Cairo, groups of young men have been engaged in a running street battle with riot police officers for nine days. Another Mosireen video report, produced last week by by Bassem Zakaria Al-Samragy, explains that those clashes grew out of anger at the lack of prosecutions for officers who killed dozens of protesters in the same area exactly one year ago.

“Why Are They Taking to the Street?” a video report by Bassem Zakaria Al-Samragy for Mosireen.

Among the demonstrators who spoke to Mosireen was the father of Jika Gaber, a 16-year-old protester killed last week, who described his son as “the first martyr of Morsi's government.”

An interview with the father of Jika Gaber, a protester killed in last week's clashes.

Video of Tuesday's demonstration in Cairo posted online by a rights activist named Amani Massoud showed protesters chanting, “Jika Jika, you hero, your blood frees the nation.”

Liam Stack contributed reporting.

Robert Mackey also remixes the news on Twitter @robertmackey.