Sunday, March 27th, 2011
I contributed the following to a NYTimes.com Room for Debate asking “Will Egypt’s Youth Movement Be Pushed Aside?”. The other contributors are here.
Stepping Up to the Challenge
By Mona Eltahawy
March 25, 2011
Young people are already stepping up to the challenge of forming a viable coalition with new initiatives like the Youth Revolution Coalition and the Tahrir Council. These groups represent youth activists and are aiming to field parliamentary candidates who are younger than 40.
The minimum age to run for parliament right now is 30, which would bar many of the people who issued the call for protests two months ago. In its latest meeting with the military council, the Youth Revolution Coalition asked that the minimum age for president be reduced to 35 from 40 and to 25 from 30 for parliament.
Surely aware of how time isn’t on their side, the groups recognize that they must marry what has worked for youth activists (the Internet) with what works for the remnants of Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party and the Muslim Brotherhood (networks on the ground). There is a huge Egyptian youth presence online. We saw it respond to the initial call for protests by the April 6 Youth Movement on Facebook and Twitter.
The Tahrir Council initiative already has a Facebook page and an online form for prospective candidates as well as applications for young Egyptians interested in managing election campaigns.
As with the Youth Revolution Coalition, the Tahrir Council is open to all political affiliations. That is crucial to youth representation in any future parliament or government. Youth activists are better able to talk across political lines than their parents.
The resounding victory for the “yes” vote in last weekend’s referendum was a reminder that the revolution can’t remain trapped in either Tahrir Square or on social networks. To hold onto a revolution they helped start, Egyptian youth know they have work to do, but they’re doing it.