Arabs Against Human Injustices

This week’s class readings were especially interesting, and also inspirational. I found myself enthralled by the idea that Egyptians are learning citizenship, only recently, due to the influx of digital media. In the digital age, youth movements have allowed for the oppressed and brutalized people of Egypt to have a voice. Aside from their found ability to voice their opinions and bring oppressors to justice, Egyptian youth are also now finding that their online anonymity is important to them. Their digital capabilities to bring strength and solidarity to their people, without fear of retaliation, by those in power, has given the Egyptian youth a means of revolt. In the past, these youth movements were not possible. Egyptians have lived in fear of being brutalized or tortured by the police and those in power for centuries. However, Arab youths are now rising to the call for unity and citizenship and are becoming a force of awakened minds with endless potential.

While, the uprising of oppressed Arab youths, in Egypt, has become an important vehicle for Egyptian people to free themselves of the corrupt leaders, who highhandedly exploit their powers, it has also become a means for gender issues to be ultimately addressed. These issues, which are very repressive and subjective in manner, have burdened Arab women and forced them to endure deleterious treatment, separately from the oppression experienced by their people entirely. Tentatively, however, the regimes of corruption and violence still hold power in many of the Arab countries and may eventually recapture influence through politics and fear. Due to the lack of planning and/or strategy to contest a possible resurgence of power by Egyptian youth movements, the Arab youths could eventually be further oppressed and demonized by the regimes they collectively deposed. Yet, with social media and digital technology, Arabs will hopefully have continued access to online communities where their voices will remain to proliferate and increase the anonymity of Arabs against human injustices.

Proposal for final project:

For the final project, I would like build upon the importance of anonymity and free speech to the Arab people, and develop a better way to help Arabs voice their opinions, while staying completely anonymous within the digital community. The level of fear that Arab youths and women endure is deleterious to their abilities to continue to fight against the now and future regimes of power. If the opposition to those in power are not protected, the youth movements and digital citizenship will eventually lose the power they gained from revolting and return to an oppressed people. I think that with added securities and capabilities to improve user experience, without relying on true identity or identifying qualities, can be a tremendous tool to aid in the future of Arab human rights.

Arabs Against Human Injustices

Youth and Digital Technology in Egypt

According to Ali and El-Sharnouby, Youth in Egypt has increased in population but during the era of Hosni Mubarak, this majority populous was marginalized. At first, in 1981, the youth were seen as productive forces but due to the NDP’s failure to implement any policies, significant amounts of this youth group could not get steady employment causing them to continue living dependent upon their parents. With this frustration and other factors, Egyptian youth were the catalyst and heart behind the fall of Mubarak, mobilizing the populous. Post revolution, these young people failed to recognize that they had to focus on the realism of their situation, “realities of drug abuse, religious extremism, poor-quality education, unemployment, sexual frustration…”(Ali and El-Sharnouby, 90). Ali and El-Sharnouby argue that the “We are all Khaled Said” movement is responsible for driving the Revolution in on the 25th of January. But the movement failed to identify and even discuss other socio-economic youth issues prevalent during the context of that period.

Not only did these youth’s serve as a tool for these revolutions and social movements, but so did the emergence and continued development of digital technology, specifically social media. This can cause digital co-option which is getting followers to gravitate towards one particular argument, discussion, discourse, aim, etc, while alienating others in the community by using “slogans, incidents, and cultural symbolism in their mobilization strategies”(Ali and El-Sharnouby, 92).

The Facebook page for WAAKS is a good example of this digital co-option, using Khaled Said is a martyr and unifying figure, to shift awareness towards other victims of Emergency Law. Khaled Said was not only part of the youth but a man of middle-class background whose death transformed him into the ultimate saint.

What I find immensely intriguing was Khaled Said’s influence by black American subculture including language, clothing and anti-police views. While this didn’t affect his activism its important to recognize these marginalized groups and how culture can thread them together.

Black American subculture and Egypt’s youth have perceptions painted onto them with judgement and disdain and yet they can help to empower one another through culture, language and style. I recognize, in the implications of this movement, various aspects that connect back to the United States and our social movements.

Ali and El-Sharnouby state on page 98 “This form of denial about ‘ourselves; as a society reinforces the syndrome of victim blaming. A woman is blamed if she is harassed; she is accused of wearing ‘unsuitable clothing’…just as a youth who takes drugs is perceived to deserve what he gets from the police.”

I can’t help but thing of Black Lives Matter and the perpetual, systemic and undeserved violence against Blacks in America. Police brutality over no crime or perceived petty-theft crime has become extremely common and life-threatening.

In conclusion, digital activism by specifically the  youth, assisted by the saint-figure of Khaled Said on Facebook, helped to mobilize efforts on January 25. The construction of Facebook pages, digital technology in general, and its connection to activism and ability to mobilize efforts is not only outstanding but proven to be successful, as studied in the WAAKS movement.



Youth and Digital Technology in Egypt