Thursday, August 27, 2015

What do the Tahrir Revolution youth want from a new president?

I found most of these young people divided in their vote between the moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh and the nationalist Hamdeen Sabahi.

What do the Tahrir Revolution youth want from a new president?

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This group of university students in a Cairo voting line was still debating over whether to vote for a leftist, nationalist or a moderate Islamist. (Trudy Rubin / Staff)
This group of university students in a Cairo voting line was still debating over whether to vote for a leftist, nationalist or a moderate Islamist. (Trudy Rubin / Staff)

When I interviewed young veterans of the January revolt in voter lines, and cafes, they all saw the vote as an extension of the revolution. They all rejected the so-called faloul candidates with links to the past regime,meaning former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq and ex-foreign minister Amr Moussa.  Several said they'd go back to the streets if Shafiq wins. "We still have Tahrir," one young sales representative for the Cadbury food group tod me. "If there will be injustice, we will go again."
 
I found most of these young people divided in their vote between the moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh and the nationalist Hamdeen Sabahi, who harks back to Egypt's hero of the 1950s and 1950s Gamal Abdel Nasser and pours on the anti-American and anti-Israel rhetoric. Students told me they liked Hamdeen, as they call him, because he calls for social justice and is neither faloul or Islamist.  But some are opting for Aboul Fotouh, because they think, as a "moderate" Islamist, he can outflank the Muslim Brotherhood - and also because he presents himself as a unifier who will listen to all sides.
 
But any new president is going to have to address the rising unempolyment rate among Egyptian youth (Sabahi wants to return to the days of expanding the state job sector but Egypt can't afford that).  Unemployment among young people is over 20 per cent and climbing, including many university graduates. Any new Egyptian leader who can't provide young people with more jobs, will face the prospect of a new revolt in Tahrir Square.

Inquirer Opinion Columnist
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About this blog

Trudy Rubin’s Worldview column runs on Thursdays and Sundays. Over the past decade she has made multiple trips to Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey, Israel and the West Bank and also written from Syria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Iran, Russia, Ukraine, South Korea and China. She is the author of Willful Blindness: the Bush Administration and Iraq, a book of her columns from 2002-2004. In 2001 she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary and in 2008 she was awarded the Edward Weintal prize for international reporting. In 2010 she won the Arthur Ross award for international commentary from the Academy of American Diplomacy.

Reach Trudy at trubin@phillynews.com.

Trudy Rubin Inquirer Opinion Columnist
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