Liberating Egyptian Youth is a Necessity, Not a Favor!

Sadly, on the matter of dealing with its youth, the Egyptian state is obsessed with the sixties era “iron fist” model of rule! Unfortunately, the current ruling regime believes that adopting a strict and harsh stance towards youth opposition groups is the best option, and the only one that will work to stabilize the country and manipulate its youth. Meanwhile, young people who oppose the regime consider violence to be the only operative course of action left open to them. Unhappily, each party believes that it is entitled to exact revenge on the other.

Young people, who account for roughly two-thirds of Egypt’s population, are known to be impulsive, motivated by moral values and idealistic. Yet Egypt is neither ruled nor even slightly influenced by its youth; it is ruled by harsh statesmen and manipulated by greedy politicians and opportunistic media people. Additionally, the older generation believes that it must continue to play the ‘parental’ role vis-à-vis Egyptian youth, imposing its obsolete beliefs and old-fashioned mentalities.

“We are a strong and powerful state” is the message that the ruling regime is trying to impress upon Egyptian youth – and upon the entire society. The ruling regime in Egypt believes that by imprisoning a few thousand young people, it will succeed in frightening the remaining millions from becoming engaged in politics. ‘Stability’ is the magic word that the regime repeatedly invokes and a large portion of society endorses it. However, I personally doubt that imprisoning our youth will bring about any kind of stability. On the contrary, at a certain point, our youth who are suffering from the lack of freedom, justice, employment and a chance to live in a modernized nation are sure to explode.

“A few thousand citizens can easily trigger millions”; that is what I learned from the January 25 revolution. Young people who share the same moral values, who are strongly motivated to change their country and who are more likely to be willing to sacrifice their lives, are certainly stronger than the state security apparatus – this is true worldwide, not only in Egypt. Once they turn against the state, neither their respective parents nor the state will be able to control them. Currently, the Egyptian state is unintentionally driving the country towards this scenario.

Everyone in Egypt agrees that the Egyptian legal system does not culminate in the realization of truly equitable justice. This fragile system is inciting more youth, who are punished by a harsh and restrictive protest law, to oppose the ruling regime. In the absence of political parties and other genuine political organizations that could absorb their ideas and energies, young people are left with a single option: to be angry at the regime and to wait for an opportunity to release this anger – in any form.

Most members of the “Detained Youth Committee” that was formed by the President are in favor of keeping these young people in prison for longer periods! Their harsh attitude reflects the state’s position regarding its youth, and it is not, in fact, surprising. These committee members were carefully handpicked by the regime and are known for their affiliation to the state apparatus that has already placed them in various public entities, such as Parliament and human rights councils. Meanwhile, the majority of Egyptian youth who, in principle, differ with the ruling regime is completely excluded.

The Egyptian state is focusing on blocking the ‘revolutionary path’ and has succeeded in doing so by making protest illegal. Nevertheless, I am afraid that our youth may invent a new path that will emerge from their frustration, and that could be much more dangerous than the peaceful demonstration channel. The state must revisit its philosophy in dealing with its youth; it may be misinterpreted as a success, but in reality, it is only serving to accumulate repressed anger that can explode at anytime. The President needs to pardon and release the vast majority of the youth in prison, thus turning a new page and making a fresh start with this powerful segment of society, averting the need to confront unpleasant scenarios. Egyptian youth need more containment and less confrontation.

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