confidence.”3 Other polls show that sixty-seven percent of Egyptians were “content” with the violent dispersal of the pro-MB sit-ins which left hundreds dead.4 The population is deeply polarized and Egyptians across political spectrums feel they are engaged in an existential battle. The question now is whether Egyptians will see their democratic experiment as a failure, place their faith in the one institution they have the most confidence in, and allow it unchecked reign – reverting back to the pre-Arab Spring power structure between state and citizen? Though this is likely what the military and security establishment is betting on, it is important that they recognize the fatal flaws of their predecessors, all of whom failed to see how changing demographics and communication technologies are altering Egyptian notions towards power. The SCAF initially had high confidence ratings and Morsi was elected, albeit with a narrow majority, but citizens quickly turned against both because they failed to be inclusive. Each were seen to have served their own group’s interests over collective national interests and thereby failed to deliver on their promises to the Egyptian people. Both governed through a zero-sum, winner-take-all approach that allowed no space for the substantive engagement of divergent groups, especially youth. Without a meaningful place at the table, those groups challenged the political system that excluded them from the streets and were not deterred by emergency laws, military trials, curfews and other forms of harassment. Those who reach power in Egypt have yet to demonstrate an understanding that as their society changes and seeks greater participation, that they too must abandon the prevalent heavyhanded, centralized autocratic leadership. Despite voters’ overwhelming support for the revised Constitution, backed by Egypt’s interim government and military in a January 2014 referendum which was boycotted by the MB and April 6 Youth Movement, low youth turnout is particularly noteworthy. “Only 16 percent of Egyptians ages 18 to 30 are said to have voted. That is the segment of the population that served as the engine of the 2011 revolution and the big anti-Morsi demonstrations in June and July last 4
year.”5 Given that over half of Egypt’s population is under twenty-four years old6 and that this new generation has already demonstrated that they are less averse to challenging authority than their parents, it is unlikely that they will sit idly by and accept the emergence of a new era of autocratic rule. It is necessary that they be brought into the country’s political fold and while part of the onus will be on them to organize themselves effectively and clearly articulate their vision for the future, it is equally important for Egypt’s political elite and institutions to allow sufficient space for youth to express themselves freely and participate in shaping the policies and decisions that will impact their lives. The complications of Egypt’s political transition have made many observers queasy and though there is a great deal of uncertainty and concern over the political outcome, this process is testing, modifying and molding values that have been stagnant for decades. The many attempts to control the political landscape will not be able to control the cultural changes that are taking place beneath the surface. Egyptians have made the leap from docile subjects to boisterous citizens and over time power structures and institutions will evolve to reflect that.
_____________________________________________________ 1 Alaa Al Aswany, On the State of Egypt: What Made the Revolution Inevitable, (New York: Vintage Books, 2011), 148. 2 Ahmad Faruqui, “From Egypt to Pakistan: Why are we Infatuated by the Army?,” The Express Tribune, August 2, 2013, http://blogs. tribune.com.pk/story/18276/from-egypt-to-pakistan-why-are-weinfatuated-by-the-army/. 3 ”Egyptian Attitudes: September 2013,” Zogby Research Services, LLC, November 23, accessed January 19, 2014, http://static. squarespace.com/static/52750dd3e4b08c252c723404/t/5294bf5de4 b013dda087d0e5/1385480029191/Egypt%20October%202013%20 FINAL.pdf. 4 “67% of Egyptians are Satisfied with Dispersal of Brotherhood Sitins: Baseera,” AhramOnline, August, 22 2013, http://english.ahram. org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/79701/Egypt/Politics-/-of-Egyptiansare-satisfied-with-dispersal-of-Brot.aspx. 5 Hamza Hendawi, “Analysis: Egypt Vote Muddies Political Outlook,” Associated Press, January 19, 2014, accessed January 19, 2014, http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/M/ML_EGYPT_THE_ NEXT_STEP_NEWS_ANALYSIS?SITE=VALYD&SECTION=HO ME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT. 6 “Egypt Demographics Profile 2013,” Index Mundi, last modified February 21, 2013, accessed January 19, 2013, http://www.indexmundi.com/egypt/demographics_profile.html.
Intercultural Management Quarterly
Intercultural Management Institute