From cyber to reality: New political stars emerge from Facebook

Magdy Samaan
4 Min Read

CAIRO: After successfully orchestrating the April 6 strike, the organizing youth made their first collective public appearance declaring themselves a new political power on the local scene.

More than 400 young people left their keyboards temporarily and gathered at the Journalists’ Syndicate to meet each other for the first time, following months of corresponding over the popular social networking site Facebook.

Numerous attendees said the “April 6 youth are the generation that will lead the political arena in the coming era.

“The emergence of Facebook youth in the April 6 strike was unexpected, but it will be a turning point in political developments in Egypt, said Mohamed Abdel Quddous, head of freedom committee at the Journalists’ Syndicate, who hosted the conference.

In their speeches, the young men and women expressed their dreams for their country calling for collective brainstorming to decide on their next step.

The idea of forming a new political youth movement was blessed by some representatives of the older generation who attended the meeting, such as George Ishaq Kefaya founder and former coordinator, judge Hisham Bastawisi, deputy head of the Cassation Court, and MPs Anwar and Talaat El Sadat.

The conference kicked off with a documentary about the origins of the April 6 strike. The short film included pictures and videos of state security s use of violence against protestors during the 2003 anti-Iraq war demonstration, the numerous Kefaya demonstrations and finally the April 6 strike.

Phrases like “we were born under 26 years of emergency law , “together for free Egypt , and “dream with us our friend appeared throughout the documentary which ended with the words “the beginning.

Issra Abdel Fatah, known as the ‘Facebook girl’ who called for the strike and was eventually arrested, was warmly welcomed by the attendees.

“My main goal is to make Egyptians have the free will to change little things such as decision making, which is related to their livelihood, and then we can change bigger things such as the political system, Abdel Fattah said at the conference.

She said that she wasn’t expecting the strong response to her call for the strike on the Facebook group. She explained that the strike, which was against rising prices, was something that the majority of Egyptian families could relate to.

She recalled a song by Mohamed Mounir whose lyrics, she told Daily News Egypt, felt as though they were about her. “I didn’t need to repent; loving Egypt is not a sin.

“I have a dream that Egyptian people will have the free will to change, and to be the higher authority in the state not the lower one, she concluded.

“We are the youth who suffer from crises and can’t begin a family or find a job, and also don’t belong to any political party, said Ahmed Maher, Abdel Fattah s partner in establishing the group.

“I have lots of dreams: that Egypt returns to leading the region and to be a democratic country that respects freedom of expression, and its people become positive and able to hold the president accountable, with full separation of powers, he added.

Maher said that their aim is to form a youth movement that would “present solutions to people’s problems.

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