Defeating the Past by Embracing the Future

The youth’s greatest advantage over the oppressive systems that it finds itself in, is the understanding and ability to quickly embrace new technology. The youth often lives in a separate world and the youth of today find that world in the digital realm. the young people of today who are disgruntled and unsatisfied by their governments more likely than not can find refuge in the internet. They can also find a means to fight back. Because the media is relatively new, things like social media and there outlet are dominated primarily by young users. It is here that the youth can organize to topple old institutions and practices. The youth shapes the future. The youth alone can correct the injustices of older generations.

To reduce Khaled Said to nothing more than his imperfections is incredibly irresponsible in regards to fighting the injustice that very much exist today. The same can be said when people insist that Trayvon Martin was a thug. There is absolutely no crime that could warrant the murder of unarmed civilians by veteran police officers who are trained specifically to detain not kill. Especially not when much of the socio-economic factors that push individuals into tough lifestyles are created by the forces that so eagerly label them as “thugs” and “hoodlums”.  To accuse individuals of wrong doings as some sort of justification for their murder is to brush away and hide the actual fact that women, minorities, and other groups face very real oppression.

The beautiful thing about the We Are all Khaled Said movement is that it is not the only movement. Khaled Said can stand for torture and abuse. Eric Garner can stand for unnecessary police brutality. Sandra bland can stand for the neglect, corruptness, and unfairness of the jail system. As many injustices as take place in this new age of technology, thats how many movements will pop up. WAAKS does not have to encompass every single problem but rather serve to galvanize the youth and justice seekers to take a harder look at their society and find the other problems. The WAAKS and other Egyptian youth movements may not work perfectly but they do work. Especially in a country where freedom of speech is not granted to all, that’s saying something.

In order for the youth, the generation of tomorrow, to defeat the socio-economic and political oppression of the regimes of old, they must embrace the technologies and possibility of the future. The youth must constantly look for ways to stay ahead of the curve. To reinvent itself. The youth must always adapt and continue to fight for a better world by leaving the world of yesterday. The only way to leave the world of yesterday is to live in today and tomorrow. And by fixing our todays, the yesterdays of the future become a source of pride not shame.

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Looking Beyond Religion-driven Movements

When people think about social movements in the middle east or north Africa, they might not even think the word social – they usually relate to Islam, irrational radicalism, authoritarianism, terrorism and violence. It’s true, because those words pretty much describe the extent of my knowledge on the topic prior to reading the articles.

The Social Movement Theory (SMT) is usually used to explain why social mobilisation occurs, and its consequences, but people rarely take the middle east and north Africa into consideration during discussion, according to Beinin and Variel. This is because it takes similarities in different social movements and tries to explain them as a whole – this cannot be applied to the middle east and north African countries; every social movement, mobilisation and contestation is dynamic and relative, their context, networks and contentious practices all need to be take into consideration for each individual case.

What I have gotten out of the articles is that the difference between those countries’ movements and those of the western world is that they do not have the same freedom and resources to form organisations. Informal networks are also key to their mobilisation, even though the goal of these networks is to unite people and make their voice heard without presenting themselves as threats to the authority.

Other than movements and organisations with religious agenda, human rights is actually a main factor behind a lot of recent movements/revolutions in the middle east such as in Turkey, Egypt, Bahrain and Morocco. The exact cause of mobilisation and outcome in each country is different for each country. For example human rights is more supported by the government of Bahrain than by Egypt, and human rights activists often do not want to work with Islamist groups even though they are usually more powerful. Maybe this has an obvious answer, but why not?

What I do not understand is how social and political change can be achieved when most of these countries are under authoritarianism with heavy constraints against protests? I would not want to challenge that, which is understandable why they connect locally through informal networks. Even though it makes sense to not have conventional forms of activism against authority when the society is politically closed, its hard to wrap my head around how this collective but silent effort by the people could work.

So maybe a lot more research needs to be done to understand more than the fact that secular movements had and will continue happening under those circumstances.