(Photos): Egypt, Tunisia and the youth revolt in the Middle East

Egyptian women demonstrate outside the Lawyers’ Sydicate in Cairo on January 27, 2011, demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, … Continued


Egyptian women demonstrate outside the Lawyers’ Sydicate in Cairo on January 27, 2011, demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, 82-years-old, who has held on to power for more than three decades ever since the assassination of his predecessor Anwar Sadat was gunned down on October 6, 1981. (AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED)

Davos, Switzerland Young people are upending the Middle East. They have both the numbers (approximately 2/3 of the Middle East is under 30) and the facility with the tools of 21st Century revolution (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) to do so.

It was young people shouting Death to the Dictator from rooftops in Iran in 2009. It was young people who chased Ben Ami out of Tunisia. It is young people who are braving tear gas and rubber bullets in Egypt. The threats keep coming, but they keep going – and the whole thing is just getting bigger and spreading wider.

Asked about the uprisings at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Bill Clinton said it was a generation yearning for their place in the modern world. They want to have a say in their society, they want to shape their own destiny. This is a desire deep in the human condition.

Mohamed ElBaradei may well be the face of the opposition movement, but here in this snowy, sleepy Swiss hamlet, far away from the hot and smoky streets of Cairo, is the man who may have been the spark.


Yemeni demonstrators hold their national flags during a rally calling for an end to the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011. Tens of thousands of people are calling for the Yemeni president’s ouster in protests across the capital inspired by the popular revolt in Tunisia. The demonstrations led by opposition members and youth activists are a significant expansion of the unrest sparked by the Tunisian uprising, which also inspired Egypt’s largest protests in a generation. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

In his presentation at a faith community meeting here at the World Economic Forum Amr Khaled said, “Arab and Muslim youth need to be listened to. No one listens to them. They have dreams. We need to bring out those dreams.”

For decades it was extremist groups who understood young people best. It’s not an accident that suicide bombers are in their teens and twenties. Al Qaeda and its allies target young people. They strike at that soft spot of identity, purpose and pride. They deliver their message in YouTube videos and sophisticated websites.


A man makes a peace sign as he carries a child during a protest in Tehran, Iran, on June 18, 2009. Photo/ Reuters via Your View

But Amr Khaled was unwilling to forfeit this rising generation of Muslims to the extremists. And he was unwilling to let their ugliness tarnish his faith. As the Muslim tradition says, “God is beautiful and loves beauty.”

Khaled started a website and invited young people to post their dreams. He put up pictures of Neil Armstrong reaching the moon, the then and now of Dubai, the rebuilding of Germany after the destruction of World War II. These are examples of dreams realized, he said.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslim youth sent Khaled their dreams.

“Love your religion,” he told them. And once-secular Egyptian youth started to pray again.

“Build your society,” Amr told them. And thousands became involved in cleaning garbage from the streets of Cairo and starting rooftop gardens.

“Cooperate with each other, in your own society and across the world.” Christians and Muslims in Egypt started doing joint volunteer projects and attended interfaith conferences Khaled organized.

Khaled is beating the extremists on their own territory: media. He is prolific – television shows, YouTube videos, website posts, tweets. But all the messages are really just one message. God made you beautiful. God made you powerful. God gave you dignity. God gave you stewardship over this His most precious Creation. Use your beauty, your power, your faith, your dignity to accomplish your responsibility. Be a dreamer. Be a builder. Change your life. Shape your society. Invent your destiny.

Before something happens in the world, it has to happen in your mind. You have to imagine your freedom before you fight for it. You have to believe in your own power to change things before you actually change anything.

What we are seeing now in the Middle East is a generation of young people who learned how to love themselves, believe in themselves, change themselves.

And now they are changing the world.


Egyptian demonstrators demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak and calling for reforms shout slogans in Cairo on January 26, 2011. Placard in Arabic reads: “Mr President Leave” AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED

About

  • yasseryousufi

    The revolution in Tunisia and the one brewing up in Egypt is the real deal. Unlike the one engineered by CIA and its satellites in Iran and Venezuela. The days of American boot licking dictators to be hanged in the middle of Arab Street are nearing. Mahmoud Abbas, the traitor number 1, should be the next in line along with all his cronies.

  • abrahamhab1

    Eboo says:This advice was meant to be viewed as Amr Khaled’s philosophy as he derived it from his religion. This is false and very misleading. Your religion teaches that every issue no matter how major or minor is preordained by Allah before creation and is encoded in a “preserved tablet” somewhere in Heaven. The principle of free choice is anathema to your Muslim theology. Please have some respect for your readers’ knowledge.

  • dangreen3

    Reminds me of the movie, ” Doctor Zhivago “, with palm trees. Look where Russia ended up. I admire these Egyptians, with that said, one has to wonder, if these middle east countries, could function as a Democracy. Jordan will be the big test. Witness the horrible outcome in Iraq.

  • wireman65

    This movement is a good thing. Let’s hope it’s not corrupted by religion.

  • bertzel

    wireman65…thanks for the laugh.~~ Be a dreamer. Be a builder. Change your life. Shape your society. Invent your destiny. Before something happens in the world, it has to happen in your mind. You have to imagine your freedom before you fight for it. You have to believe in your own power to change things before you actually change anything. What we are seeing now in the Middle East is a generation of young people who learned how to love themselves, believe in themselves, change themselves. And now they are changing the world~~~Such inspiring words….for all.Yet what do you believe that change to actually be?

  • WmarkW

    How do we know the crowds are right and the leaders are wrong?In Pakistan a month ago, it was the other way around.

  • Rongoklunk

    After 9/11 I half expected to see crowds in the street screaming ‘RELIGION MUST GO!!’ But I guess folks are not ready for that one yet.The ancients had a great excuse for believing in the supernatural; they didn’t know any better. They had no schools and no scholars, and no books. And no information highway. We don’t have that excuse. Information is everywhere in this scientifically amazing world we live in.We have it all. We don’t need ‘faith’. we have science, which is much more honest than religion ever was.

  • Farnaz2Mansouri2

    Mubarak is a wretch about whom I’ve been blogging here for years. His regime must end. I only hope that there is an easy transition, help for Egypt’s numerous poor, and democracy.

  • Kingofkings1

    Abrahamahab1 wrote:—————————————-We are seeing a revolutionary moment now where the young have had enough of the stale past and yearning for a better future. This is their right. It is a historical moment. And the above hateful comment is your take on this historical moment, Abrahamahab, you are a lost cause and a truly hateful person. I suggest you read rabbi Brad Hirschfield’s thoughtful article this week in wapo. You do yourself and your religion no good by being a hateful fanatic.

  • Farnaz2Mansouri2

    KOK:And the above hateful comment is your take on this historical moment, Abrahamahab, you are a lost cause and a truly hateful person. I suggest you read rabbi Brad Hirschfield’s thoughtful article this week in wapo. You do yourself and your religion no good by being a hateful fanatic.

  • Kingofkings1

    Correction:Adolf Abraham: And the above hateful comment is your take on this historical moment, Abrahamahab, you are a lost cause and a truly hateful person. I suggest you read Abraham Cooper’s thoughtful article this week in wapo. You do yourself and your religion no good by being a hateful fanatic.———————————-And Farnaz Mansouri,

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