Lozah

On the 6th of April Movement

Yesterday a column by Refaat Rashad in al-Masry al-Youm daily newspaper titled “Who is Behind the April Youth Movement?” criticized the 6th of April movement for not having an official structure. After briefly outlining the recent developments in political culture in Egypt, the author ends his column with the following:

 

وإذا كانت الأحزاب الشرعية رفضت المشاركة، فمن يقف ويساند ويخطط لشباب أبريل، ربما إذا عرفناهم، ساندناهم، وربما إذا عرفناهم طاردناهم، لذا أرى أن تخفِّيهم وتخفِّى الجهات المساندة لهم يضفى الكثير من الشكوك حول هذه الجماعة التى تستمد اسمها من شهر اشتهر أوله بسمة يرفضها الجميع أو على الأقل يتندرون بها.

 

Translation:

And if the official parties refused to participate, then who is supporting the 6th of April Youth? Maybe if we knew them, we would support them. But maybe if we knew them, we would resist them. Thus, I see that their obscurity and the obscurity of their supporting entities places a lot of doubts around this group – a group that draws its name from a month [April] that is famous for starting with a trait that everybody abhors.

 

What I don’t understand is why the author feels the need to link the unofficial status of the 6th of April Youth to obscurity and lying? Many unofficial Egyptian networks and alliances view their unofficial status as an asset so as to escape government cooptation as well as the bureaucracy and leadership struggles that emerge in many official Egyptian structures.

The 6th of April Youth are an organic social movement that was started by a group of youth who actually worked for an official political party and were tired of the bureaucracy and cooptation and wanted a chance at instigating real change.

 

He also states in his column:

 

ولكن أيضا على جماعة أبريل وغيرها من الجماعات المناضلة أن يكون لها شكل وملامح وكيان شرعى لكى يمكنها بلورة مطالبها والدخول مع الحكومة فى مفاوضات لتحقيق هذه المطالب.

 

Translation:

The 6th of April group, and other resistance groups, must also have an official structure and become an official entity to be able to crystallize its demands and enter into negotiations with the government to fulfill these demands.

 

While the author asks some good questions and raises some legitimate points, I think he is asking them prematurely. This movement is a nascent one – its first protest was only 1 year ago! Some of the greatest movements in history emerged from informal, unofficial collectives of citizens gathered around a common goal. The labour movements, even the civil rights movement, began as an organic informal engagement by ordinary citizens in political life. Not because they’re politicians or members of political parties, but simply because they wanted to live a decent life and becoming politically active was the only way to achieve that. But these movements take years to formalize. We cannot expect a 1-year old movement to become a structured, organized, official entity with a clear mission statement and leadership.

 

Social movement theory states that movements go through several stages. They emerge for a particular purpose, they coalesce and begin to organize, they bureaucratize, and then they either succeed or fail at achieving their original purpose, after which they decline when there is no longer a purpose for their existence.

 

Perhaps the reason why we don’t know who is supporting and funding them is that they don’t actually have any funding yet. What have they really done so far that requires funding? Their campaign has been conducted on Facebook and through brochures and posters, which don’t require a lot of money to print.

 

As I previously said, I am not refuting the points raised in the article, but to put them under the title of “Who is Behind the April Youth Movement” implies a conspiracy-theory tone. This tone bothers me because there are many who have been accusing the movement of receiving foreign funding and trying to impose “foreign morals” whatever that means (I guess they think democracy, human rights, minimum wage, constitutional reform, and not forming political and economic alliances with colonizers are foreign morals?). These types of accusations are expected. How else can the corrupt delegitimize a citizen movement? They are just using what ammunition they have.

 

Note:

I would like to emphasize that I am not in any way implying that the author of this column has partaken in these conspiracy theories. To my knowledge the author of this column has NOT been among those who have accused the Movement of foreign support. I am merely comparing what he said in his column to what others have been saying.

 

Links:

 

http://www.almasry-alyoum.com/article2.aspx?ArticleID=205645&IssueID=1366

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_movement#Dynamics_of_social_movements

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2005/748/eg10.htm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/arabic/middle_east_news/newsid_7984000/7984844.stm

http://arabist.net/arabawy/2009/04/06/facebookstrike_fails_so_wake_up/

 

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April 6, 2009 - Posted by | Egyptian Affairs, Media/Press

1 Comment »

  1. mmmm….. i don’t think any foreign support would be interest any more in a falling country. I do also think that if these youth found a legitimate place to practice their political life, they would have not been secretly moving.

    And what is wrong of being funded by a foreign money, when the government itself is funded by the United States to help Israel. Of course, I am not encouraging that but I really hate the conspiracy theories that we can come up with in Egypt.

    And to add one, “I have a feeling that the 6th of April movement is funded by the Egyptian Government itself”….. why not !!!!!

    Comment by Mohamed Altantawy | April 6, 2009 | Reply


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