Egypt’s future lies with young men like these

An Egyptian soldier guards Egypt's Stock Exchange Market, which has been closed for over a month, ahead of the scheduled opening for March 1, in Cairo on Monday. (Nasser Nasser / AP Photo)

I believe that the key to the outcome of the upheavals going on the Mideast lies with the youth of Egypt.  The caliber of the young leaders who head the key groups that organized the Egyptian revolt, was enormously impressive. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, journalists – ranging in age from early 20s to early 30s – they demonstrated an immense talent for organization and strategic planning.

And this is key: their demands had nothing to do with religion, but everything to do with pragmatic interests such as establishing a government that is more representative and less corrupt.  There were some Muslim Brotherhood Youth among them, but they were a very small minority and kept a low profile.  

In a region where 60 per cent of the population is under 25, these young leaders can provide role models for youth in countries less developed than Egypt. The key unanswered question is whether the abilities that enabled them to topple an autocrat can be translated into the kinds of skills that can build new, effective political parties, and whether they will be willing to “dirty their hands” by entering politics – a field heretofore disdained by most Egyptians.

I will be writing more about several of these young leaders in next Sunday’s Currents section of The Inquirer.