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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 2/9/11

From Stalemate to Checkmate -- Meet Egypt's Future Leaders

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She continued, "At the time when many people were setting themselves on fire, I went into Tahrir Square with several members of the movement, and we tried a spontaneous demonstration to protest against the recurrence of these incidents. However, the security forces prevented us and removed us from the Square. This prompted me to film a video clip, featuring my voice and image, calling for a protest."

"I said that on the 25th of January, I would be an Egyptian girl defending her dignity and her rights. I broadcasted the video on the Internet, via Facebook, and was surprised by its unprecedented distribution over websites and mobile phones. Subsequently, I made four further videos prior to the date of the protest," she added.

If Maher is the movement's national coordinator, Muhammad Adel, 22, a college junior majoring in computer science, is its technology wizard and media coordinator. Online he jokingly calls himself "The dead Dean," in a reference to his young age and what could be in store for him from the secret police.

In November 2008, he was arrested at the age of 20, detained and placed in solitary confinement for over 100 days because of his political activities on the Internet. He was denied any means of communications with his family during the whole period. His interrogators pleaded with him to stop blogging so he could be freed. He refused to give them any commitment until he was freed in March 2009.

According to the "April 6 Youth" movement's platform, its main concerns include promoting political reforms and democratic governance through a strategy of non-violence; constitutional reforms in the areas of civil rights, political freedoms, and judicial independence; and economically addressing poverty, unemployment, social justice and fighting corruption. Their focus is primarily the youth and students. Their means of communications, education and mobilization relies on the extensive use of technology and the Internet.

Wael Ghoneim, 30, a brilliant communications engineer, has been working for several years in Dubai, U.A.E, as Google marketing director for the Middle East and North Africa. As a consequence of the murder of Khaled Said by Mubarak's regime, he was enraged and created the popular Facebook page "We are all Khaled Said." A few days before the current uprising he left Dubai for Cairo so he could be part of the historical events.

As the administrator of the popular web page, Ghoneim was instrumental in the online mobilization efforts of the Jan. 25 uprising. So on the evening of Jan. 27, four plain-clothes secret police officers kidnapped him during the protest, an event that was captured on tape. For the next 12 days the government refused to acknowledge that he was arrested until the newly appointed Prime Minister announced his release on Feb. 7 as a gesture to the demonstrators because of his popularity and prominence in the youth movement.

Upon his release, Ghoneim said that he was kept blindfolded and in isolation the entire time he was in detention as he was interrogated about his role in the uprising. After his release he gave an emotional TV interview calling the 300 people who have lost their lives during the popular revolution the real heroes of Egypt.

Furthermore, one of the most articulate voices of Egypt's revolution is 37-year-old Nawwara Nagm. Since her graduation as an English literature major, she has been a well-known political activist as well as a severe critic of Mubarak's regime working as a journalist and blogger for opposition newspapers. In 1995 she was first arrested and sent to prison at the age of 22 because she protested the inclusion of Israel in Cairo's annual Book Fair.

Both of her parents are also well known in Egyptian society. Her father, Ahmad Fuad Nagm, 81, is perhaps the most popular poet in Egypt today. He has been in and out of prison during most of the past five decades (during the reigns of Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak) because of his political and satirical poems that directly attack not only the regime but also its head. Her mother is Safinaz Kazem who broke many barriers as a female journalist. Educated in the U.S. in the 1960's, she became one of the most respected literary and film critics and political analysts publishing in major Egyptian newspapers and magazines.

Since the uprising began on Jan. 25, Nawwara has been an eloquent spokesperson expressing the steadfast political demands of the organizers and protesters, and in the process mobilizing the support of millions of Egyptians and Arabs who are constantly following the revolution on Al-Jazeera and other satellite networks.

On Sunday, Feb. 6, the youth groups that spearheaded Egypt's revolution formed a coalition called the "Unified Leadership of the Youth of the Rage Revolution." It consisted of five groups with a grassroots base which are considered the backbone of the organized activities of the revolution.

The coalition includes two representatives from each of the April 6 Youth Movement, the Justice and Freedom Group, the Popular Campaign to Support El-Baradei, the Democratic Front Party, and the popular Muslim Brotherhood Movement. In addition four independent members were also added to the leadership for a total of fourteen members. Maher, the coordinator of the April 6 movement, and Ghoneim, an independent, were elected to the leadership. All members are in their late 20s or early 30s.

Ahmed Naguib, 33, a key protest organizer, has explained how the leadership was formed. He said, "There are people from the April 6 and Khaled Said movement," referring to groups that worked non-stop to set off the uprising. Speaking of some opposition parties that want to hijack the revolution or negotiate on its behalf, he said, "They talk a lot about what the youth has done, but they continue on the same path as the government, marginalizing young people -- except for the Muslim Brotherhood and El-Baradei group."

Coalition spokesperson is attorney Ziad Al-Olaimai, 32, from the Popular Campaign to Support El-Baradei. He read a statement on behalf of the coalition at a news conference that laid out their seven demands, namely: the resignation of Mubarak, the immediate lifting of emergency law, release of all political prisoners, the dissolution of both upper and lower chambers of parliament, the formation of a national unity government to manage the transitional period, investigation by the judiciary of the abuses of the security forces during the revolution, and the protection of the protesters by the military.

Muhammad Abbas, 26, is another leader of the coalition representing the youth of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) movement. After initial hesitation at the beginning of the uprising, the MB has brought since Jan. 28 tens of thousands of its supporters to join and help organize the efforts in Tahrir Square as well as in other demonstrations across the country.

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