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ZigZig. Photo: DCAF Festival.
Articles, Reviews, Volume 8

Boundaries of History, Memory and Invention: Laila Soliman’s ZigZig in Light of Absence of Egyptians’ Right to Freedom under Information Law

Boundaries of History, Memory and Invention:
Laila Soliman’s ZigZig in Light of
Absence of Egyptians’ Right to Freedom under Information Law
By Hadia abd el-fattah Ahmed
Arab Stages, Volume 8 (Spring, 2018)
©2018 by Martin E. Segal Theatre Center Publications

In Egypt, from 2011 until 2016, more than one draft law on free access to information has been written by the Egyptian government and some civil society members or groups. Most of the drafts agreed that, depending on sort of information that the public authorities have, a reasonable disclosure ban could be determined. However, the maximum ban must not exceed 50 years, even if the information is categorized under the title of “top-secret.” The natural result of having such a law is that after a certain period of time most, if not all, documents would be handed over to national libraries and archives which means that citizens, including artists, would then have the right to freely access information of interest.[1]

After witnessing the so-called Arab Spring in 2011 and its consequences in Egypt and the Arab region, Laila Soliman, Egyptian director, playwright and dramaturg, wanted to spotlight aspects of the various revolutionary movements in Egypt, especially these movements which took place between 1914 and 1919. [2] While searching for historical materials that covered this period, she found, to her dismay, a paper in the British Foreign Archive referring to some raping and violent incidents that happened in a number of small villages in Al-Giza district in Cairo. But then, when she returned to the Egyptian resources to learn exactly the circumstances which led to and surrounded these incidents, she could not find the Egyptian investigations which were held then to document in detail the brutal deeds which had been done by the British soldiers.[3]

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