Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Losing Egypt’s Young Generation

Ahmed Hossam, better known as Mido, is the manager of the Zamalek soccer team, the second most popular club in Egypt. At 32 years old, Mido is the youngest manager in the Egyptian premier league. A few days ago he was interviewed on a popular talk show where he openly expressed his admiration of Field Marshal El-Sisi and lambasted the Muslim Brotherhood. His comments were followed by immense criticism on Egyptian social media. Zamalek fans and others, all young Egyptians, criticized Mido for talking about politics instead of focusing on his job. That was ironic because Egypt, since 3 years ago, had nothing to talk about except politics. Mido got the message, he promised his followers on Twitter that he will refrain from talking about politics again.

This incident is a small indication of the behavioral change we’re witnessing in Egypt’s youth, especially the urban young, vis-a-vis politics and the current events that are unfolding in a country that seems to have turned its back to the youth-triggered revolution of 2011. The question of why the younger generation of Egyptians are feeling alienated from the current political discourse arose when they were virtually absent at the last constitution referendum. When I went to cast my ballot, I looked around and found that I was the youngest voter in the entire polling station. I am 34 years old.

The change in attitude and behavior of the younger generation is emanating from a mixture of both apathy and disgust at how the country is moving forward especially after the July 3rd popularly backed coup which was supported by millions including large segments of the youth.

It seems that many young people are now feeling apathetic towards the current political events in Egypt. This is the result of the return of many of Mubarak’s era way of doing things. Take the last referendum for example. Even though the ballots were not forged, the process was not fair. “No” campaigners were arrested and the media, both private and public, unleashed a hysterical campaign to encourage people to vote yes. “Why would I bother and tire myself to vote?” a colleague told me. “We all knew the result would be a yes”. My colleague is not pro-Brotherhood; in fact she is a Christian in her late twenties.

Many youth, especially, those who participated in the January 2011 revolution, feel disgusted at the how events have turned after the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, specifically in regards to the abuses and excesses of the period that followed. The current police brutality and crimes we’re witnessing are unprecedented; they did not even happen during Mubarak. Many of the victims are young people including university students who were killed inside their university campuses. The crackdown has even reached young people who were supportive of the July 3 political order. Two young men who signed the Tamarod petition were gunned down during anti-government protests in Suez and Cairo. . “Even those who did June 30 (the mass demonstration that preceded Morsi’s ouster) are in jail,” I heard a Cairo downtown young street vendor tell his colleague. “Aren’t April 6 members in jail now?” he continued.

These state sanctioned, and unfortunately public condoned, measures did not shift the majority of the youth towards the pro-Morsi camp but I’ve noted before in a previous post that I noticed a rise in the number of young people who decided to join the pro-Morsi demonstrations. The current regime is losing the young generation especially those living in urban areas. These are the ones who triggered the last two mass revolts in Egypt, which toppled two presidents. I hope whomever wants to become president of this country is paying enough attention to this development.

  Posted by BP at 5:27 pm Comments Off on Losing Egypt’s Young Generation

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