Safe Spaces to show documentary revealing the struggle for free speech

Alec Slovenec

The 2016 documentary “Tickling Giants” details the oppression of free speech in an authoritarian Egypt. The film will be shown Tuesday, and will be followed by a discussion lead by a panel of staff members from Kent State Safe Spaces Faculty Collective to discuss the messages in the documentary.

The documentary’s director, Sara Taksler, contacted Kent State to show the film for an educational purpose. As an expert on Egypt, political science associate professor Joshua Stacher was put in charge of organizing the event.

Safe Spaces, the Northeast Ohio Consortium for Middle East Studies and the Kent State Political Science Department have been licensed to show the event on campus.

The documentary follows the story of Bassem Youssef, an Egyptian satirist whose program brought in approximately 30 million viewers a week — about 40 percent of Egypt’s population. Following Egypt’s military coup, the program was scrutinized by the new regime, and Youssef and his family fled the country in fear of their safety.

The issues with free speech span much wider than just Egypt’s borders; free speech is a broad human right that is always at risk of being compromised, Stacher said.

“Free speech is not definite, defined or ever over,” Stacher said. “Things that we used to take for granted that we could say, we could do, we could talk about, could come under scrutiny.”

Following the showing, there will be panelists to speak with attendees about the issues in the documentary. Communication studies assistant professor Suzy D’enbeau and Pan-African Studies assistant professor Idris Syed, as well as Stacher, will be there to “universalize” the messages from the film and relate them to the world beyond Egypt.

The film will be shown in Bowman Hall room 133. The event is free, and those who plan on coming are encouraged to RSVP.

“Free speech is not feelings. Free speech is not being offended. Free speech is about having a mature, research/education-driven conversation about topics that are tough that we might not all agree on,” Stacher said.

Alec Slovenec is the university diversity reporter, contact him at [email protected]