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Thursday, 21 November 2019

Culture centre in Moqattam district hosts forums on arts protests

In isolated Moqattam - a district which is also the home to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood headquarters - Shababeek Culture Centre hosts events to raise awareness on artists' and intellectuals' ongoing protests

Mina Ibrahim, Saturday 15 Jun 2013
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Shababeek Culture Centre (Photo: Shababeek facebook page)
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The only large culture centre in the isolated, hilly district of Moqattam - the home of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood headquarters - Shababeek Culture Centre will hold a series of events to inform their community on the current protests and sit-in at the culture ministry building.

Shababeek Director Doha Assy explains to Ahram Online that their members and audience, who, according to Assy, are ordinary Egyptian families, from a variety of social strata "are particularly concerned with the minister's policies and decisions; they follow up on the artists' and intellectuals' current protests, including the ongoing sit-in at the ministerial building."

Since 5 June, artists and intellectuals have occupied the culture ministry office to push for the removal of Culture Minister Alaa Abdel-Aziz, who sacked several major officers within the first three weeks of accepting the post from President Morsi. He offered no justification for the sackings, only stating generally that his aim is to "purge the ministry of corruption."

"When news reached them about Abdel-Aziz's decisions to dismiss key artistic figures from the leading cultural institutions and they heard about the statements pronounced by a member of Egypt's parliament condemning the art of ballet, many Shababeek members asked me to start activities to support protesting artists and intellectuals," Assy continues.

Shababeek complied and launched a series of discussions and round tables which aim to inform attendees about the current situation and simply relay the day-to-day events.

Commenting to Ahram Online, Assy added that "there is a tremendous difference between the idea of purification of the culture ministry from any financial and administrative corruption and the 'Brotherhoodisation' of it. This fact is among the main triggers that moved artists to storm the culture ministry and what, as a result, brought the big art of Moqattam's community on their side."

Assy launched a series of discussions under the theme "Defending culture and arts against 'Brotherhoodisation'."  

The first discussion took place on Friday, 14 June. The main guest speaker of the discussion was Farida El-Nakkash, a well-known journalist and a leftist opposition figure. She is also the first female editor-in-chief of the El-Ahly newspaper, which is published by the Tagammu socialist party.

El-Nakkash said to Ahram Online that, "unlike the other anti-Brotherhood protests and strikes, the Zamalek demonstrations' index of success has been escalating from one day to the next, despite the fact that to date the minister has not made any concessions."

The symbolism of the Zamalek strike is not limited to the minister of culture policies, she says. It has become an inclusive outlet of objection against the current deteriorating political, social, and economic conditions of Egyptian society in general.

Ahead of the 30 June protests called for in part by the Rebel Campaign that aim to push the Brotherhood-fielded President Mohamed Morsi out of office, Shababeek will hold a series of festivals, forums and discussions aiming to raise awareness of the country's situation from the cultural perspective.

Among the planned activities is forum titled "Will Muslim Brotherhood rule end with the Tamarod [Rebel] Campaign?" to take place on 15 June at 9pm.

The forum will be led by Kamal Khalil, the leftist activist and the founder of The Farmers and the Workers Party; Khaled Teleima, an anchor at ON TV satellite channel and a leading member of the Revolutionary Youth Coalition; Mohammed Heikal, a prominent member of the Rebel Campaign central committee; and Mohammed Abdullah Nasr, known as the Tahrir Square preacher and the founder of the main opposition movement in the religious institution of Al-Azhar.

As Morsi's year anniversary in power nears, the Rebel Campaign aims to gather 15 million signatures to prove there are more people that now wish to withdraw confidence in him than the 13.2 that voted him into power.

On 20 June, Ramy Essam, known as "singer of the Revolution" will perform in Shababeek.

Complete programme of Shababeek can be found on their facebook page.

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Launched in 2012 Shababeek Culture Centre offers creative workshops such as marionette art, ballet, music classes, visual arts activities, along with learning sessions for aspiring actors, script writers, short movies directors, etc.

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