By Jeremy Hodge
On Monday, the Press Syndicate hosted the premiere and screening of The Game, a 60-minute documentary detailing the life of 26-year-old Gamal Shaker. A revolutionary activist in Cairo, Shaker is a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The film, directed by Olfat Osman, recounts Shaker’s initiation into the Muslim Brotherhood during his teenage years, granting viewers an inside look into the organisation’s inner structure and methods of recruitment. Building on these experiences, the scope of the film expands on the role of the Muslim Brotherhood, United States, Soviet Union as well as other regional powers, in helping to mould the Muslim world into what we see today.
The film can largely be seen as a critique of the Brotherhood, in addition to other Islamist movements in the region. The story sheds light on the factors and events that prompted Shaker to leave the organisation and later join the ranks of the 25 January Revolution. Osman included a number of interviews with prominent ex-Muslim Brotherhood members, such as lawyer and former leader within the organisation Tharwat El-Kherbawy, in addition to formerly exiled member Kamal Al-Helbawy. The two discuss their previous roles as international arbiters for the Brotherhood, serving as liaisons to a number of western powers. Al-Helbawy reveals in the interview that he was tasked in the 1980s to oversee Muslim Brotherhood operations in Afghanistan in conjunction with the local mujahideen.
Shaker’s coming of age and eventual awareness of world events as described by El-Kherbawy and Al-Helbawy, are portrayed as that which caused him to become disillusioned with the organisation, gradually becoming less and less involved with its activities. This, combined with repeated stints in jail on the Brotherhood’s behalf, a sacrifice which Shaker describes as having been met with indifference and apathy by the organisation’s leadership, finally caused him to break ranks in 2010. Suffering from a lack of belonging and a spontaneous identity crisis, Shaker tells how he became involved with the Kefaya protest movement, joining the ranks of young Egyptian activists united under the banner “We are all Khaled Said”, experiences which led him to take part in the oncoming 25 January Revolution.
The screening of the film was followed by a panel discussion attended by director Olfat Osman, Gamal Shaker, and Egyptian director Magdy Ahmed Ali, during which the three discussed their motivations for making the film and their vision for Egypt’s future. Shaker ended the panel, concluding: “Our main problem, as revolutionaries, is that we are constantly on the search for differences in opinion. We mostly agree with each other, however, we instead choose to argue on those small points on which we differ. Overcoming division should be our top priority.” This was promptly followed by “Yasqut yasqut hukm al-murshid”, a call to overthrow the Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide.