On Thursday 13 October evening the Coalition for Independent Culture held a silent vigil, which turned into a protest for a set of demands regarding the violent attacks in Talaat Harb Square. A few hundred attended the vigil; many were members of the arts and culture community in Cairo, along with some political activists and others.
Prior to the vigil the Coalition for Independent Culture issued an open statement on Facebook through the account of Basma El-Husseiny, Director of al Mawred El Thakafi, an active member of the Coalition.
The demands they made of Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces include:
- establish a committee of citizens who are independent from the government and SCAF
- issue and implement the unified law for building places of worship
- conduct a thorough investigation of the officers involved in the attacks on the Egyptian Christian march in Maspero that ended with 26 deaths
- enforce the Egyptian civil law regarding religious intolerance and feuds
- the resignation of the media minister
- to stop delaying the trials of those accused of killing protesters since the start of the revolution
“We called for this stand because we found that as artists – and more importantly as citizens – we are obligated to share our opinion on what happened,” El-Husseiny told Ahram Online.
“We organised this protest because of what happened in Maspero, but we all need to do more than [just] protest because what happened is unacceptable,” Safaa Fekry, Graphic Designer and Coalition member emphasised.
“Seeing citizens get run over by military trucks was unprecedented. It was the army’s responsibility, regardless if the trucks were stolen, as they claimed.”
The entirely volunteer-based and independently-funded Coalition was established in February this year. It is made up of four committees working on a diverse range of activities, including fieldwork, media and a thinktank, which work to bring solutions to the challenges in Egypt’s arts field.
Among the Coalition’s most successful projects are Al Fan Midan (Art is Square) fairs. Artisans, chalk drawings and a host of other artists and activities are held in an open-air, public square across 14 governorates around Egypt in order for art to reach laypeople. The audience enjoys live music in the background, usually with political overtones.
“This vigil is considered the coalition’s second activity, after Al Fan Midan.” Ahmed Hassan, film director and member of the Coalition said. “Our main purpose is to integrate culture into society.”
The Coalition collaborates with like-minded political parties, youth coalitions and other organised bodies, “There must be collaboration between all the bodies working on the revolution” Hassan said.
“Arts and Culture has to be an integral part of the new constitution of the country. We have to bring arts and culture to people through the streets.”
“We are not tired of the revolution. We are all one hand. All of the initiatives, coalitions and groups are not divided – they are just labels. We all have the same goal,” Fekry stated.