News / Africa

Election Surge by Egypt's Old Guard Frustrates Revolutionary Youth

A young girl flies an Egyptian national flag as she listens to Mohammed Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate, at a rally in Cairo, May 20, 2012.
A young girl flies an Egyptian national flag as she listens to Mohammed Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate, at a rally in Cairo, May 20, 2012.
Elizabeth Arrott
CAIRO - Egyptian youth are expected to turn out in high numbers for their country's first presidential election since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Many of the young activists who took part in last year's uprising say they feel they are not fully represented in the vote.

Egypt's revolution primarily was an uprising of the young -- a rejection of the old, stifling, decades-long government.  So it is particularly galling to many activists that two of the front-runners in this week's presidential election -- Amr Moussa and Ahmed Shafik -- made their names as members of the old guard.
 
In a cafe not far from Tahrir Square, youths who took part in the historic protests there now despair of the possible election of felool, or “remnants," as those of the previous government are derisively called. Mostafa Abdel Ragman Kajo is a writer and member of the opposition April 6 Youth Movement.

He says it would mean the death of the revolution.  It's not fair, he argues, that thousands of youths spilled their blood for freedom, and then one who fought against them became president.  

The other top choices in the race might seem equally problematic for activist voters.  Both Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh and Mohamed Morsi are Islamists.
 
But for Ragman Kajo, that is a qualified step in the right direction.

The activist says he could accept an Islamist as president, but on the condition he respects social equity and most importantly, the enfranchisement of all.

Although Sharia-advocating Islamists and freedom-seeking youth protesters seem divided on what the future of Egypt should be, their shared history of oppression leads to some common ground -- and opponents.

Human Rights Watch researcher Heba Morayef says that was evident in a recent debate. "Aboul Fotouh had spoken of the right to demonstrate, saying the demonstrators don't have the right to use violence, but the state has the obligation to defend protesters. And Moussa's response was much more focused on the stability of the state. He doesn't see revolutionary activists as a constituency he needs to speak to,” he said.

But some youths are alienated by the entire field of candidates, saying there is not a single candidate who represents them.  Accountant Mostafa Akl, who camped out on Tahrir during the uprising, expresses his frustration.
 
Akl believes the problem is that “the revolution took place without having one person at the head.”

There are some candidates that have gained at least a moderate following among younger voters, including Nasserist Hamdeen Sabahi and activist Khaled Ali, the youngest candidate in the race.

But the general lack of representation has some already looking to the next election, and the five years in between to strengthen their position.

In the meantime, some, like Egyptologist and activist Dalia Hussein, are accepting and proud of who is running in this election.
 
She says the revolution was for the sake of freedom, so they won't deny anyone the freedom to run for office. But, Hussein adds, it's her right, and the right of her fellow young voters, not to elect those they fought to get rid of in the first place.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid