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Monday, December 17, 2012

Video Bloggers Urge Egyptians to Reject Constitution

Last Updated, Saturday, 12:21 p.m. As Egyptians prepare to vote in a referendum on a new constitution hastily approved last month by Islamist allies of President Mohamed Morsi, activist filmmakers in Cairo have released a series of Web videos urging their fellow citizens to reject the document.

The filmmakers, who formed the media collective Mosireen last year to document the continuing struggle against authoritarianism and to train citizen journalists, have produced three dozen new videos in the past two weeks. The videos deploy animation, rap music, reportage, interviews with experts and testimony from protesters who were detained and tortured by the president's supporters this month, to make their case against what they call “the Muslim Brotherhood's constitution.”

Among the most striking of the films is a rap video that surveys the recent chaos provoked by the president's decision to grant himself broad new powers to push through the constitution.

A political music video by Aalam Wassef, an activist filmmaker in Cairo.

The video, which calls for a new revolution to force Mr. Morsi to step down, was produced by Aalam Wassef, an artist, musician and blogger who made subversive Web videos during the Mubarak era under the pseudonym Ahmad Sherif. In an interview in February on The Arabist podcast, Mr. Wassef said that he continued to make videos criticizing Egypt's leaders after the 2011 revolution because it was clear that “things weren't over.”

Another element in the Mosireen campaign is testimony from protesters who were detained and tortured by the president's supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood after Islamists attacked a sit-in outside th e presidential palace last week. In one of those clips, an activist named Ola Shahba described the beating and sexual assault she said she suffered at the hands of Muslim Brothers outside what is known in Cairo as the Itihadeyya, or Unity palace.

The testimony of Ola Shahba, an activist who said she was beaten and sexually assaulted by Islamists in Cairo last week.

Another protester, Mohamed Abd El Fatah Sayed Ahmed, explained that one of the Muslim Brothers who pulled down his tent when the sit-in was attacked also bit off part of his ear.

The testimony of a protester who said he lost part of his ear during a beating by Islamists.

Some videos in the series use animation, just as clips distributed in support of the constitution do.

An animated video mocking the Muslim Brotherhood's dominant role in the drafting of Egypt's proposed constitution.

One video, which looks critically at the claim that the charter protects the rights of workers, begins with experts in that field watching a pro-constitution ad.

Experts deconstr uct the claims in a pro-constitution ad that the new charter protects the rights of workers.

Among the videos featuring expert testimony on flaws in the proposed constitution is one that on the unchecked powers granted to the military and another about how the charter could limit freedom of the press in Egypt.

A look at the powers granted to Egypt's military by the proposed constitution.

Journalists explain their fears about how a new constitution could limit freedom of the press.< /div>

Another video argues that the new charter would not put a stop to the torture of detainees, and it reminds viewers of what they endured at the hands of the Mubarak government and then the military council that ruled Egypt for more than a year after the revolution.

A Mosireen video argues that the proposed charter could allow torture of detainees to continue.

One of the Mosireen videos is an interview with a veteran activist, Shahenda Maklad, who was protesting outside the presidential palace last week when a Muslim Brother clapped his hand over her mouth. That image summed up the fears of ma ny Egyptians about the future of their country under Islamist rule.

An interview with Shahenda Maklad, a veteran rights activist who explained her opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood and the constitution they support.