Posted by on October 21, 2011 in Blog

Ahmed Maher, a founder of Egypt’s April 6th Movement, visited the Arab American Institute on Tuesday, April 18th to speak and answer questions about the next steps for the Movement and Egypt’s future.

Maher devoted a significant portion of his speech to addressing misconceptions about the April 6th movement and the accusations put forth by Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and other critics of the movement. The April 6th Movement, according to Maher, is not only about online organizing and social media. Facebook and Twitter were only a small part of their efforts, and will remain a fraction of their work going forward. Highlighting the diversity of the April 6th Movement’s activities, Maher spoke at length about a new “Watchdog” initiative as well as heavy educational efforts throughout the election process. The April 6th Movement will be involved in educating Egyptians about their rights, where their polling stations are, as well as about “who the good and bad guys are.” They will also endorse a candidate for the Presidency in the upcoming election.

Maher denied accusations that the April 6th Movement accepts foreign money and influence. The SCAF, Maher asserted, is not an honest partner, as it puts on a very different face in meetings with April 6th Movement than it has shown the public, with its criticism of the Movement. Maher also noted that the SCAF has given many troubling signs about their unwillingness to leave power, including reinstating the emergency law and keeping many of the same pro-Mubarak figures in the media.

Following the speech, Maher proceeded to answer questions from the audience. AAI executive director Maya Berry pointed out that, early on, the movement’s conversations with the military were cooperative. She asked Ahmed Maher what had changed to turn these initially promising talks sour. Maher theorized that the SCAF thought the youth movement would be more willing to compromise and cave on certain issues and changed their tone when they realized that the April 6th Movement would not be complicit in the SCAF’s attempts to preserve their power. Maher was asked a question about the attack on the Israeli embassy and if this was a sign of his movement and Egypt’s youth becoming increasing frustrated and radicalized. Maher theorized that this attack was allowed to happen by the powers that be, so that the international community would be wary of Egyptian democracy.

Maher concluded by discussing the obstacles ahead and his predictions for Egypt’s future. Maher argued that the next stage of the revolution would be the 2012 election, and he predicted a much-divided parliament as a result. He noted that the April 6th Movement is working to find common ground with other political forces, mainly in their efforts to decide on a desired timetable or schedule for various milestones in the transitional period. Addressing the difficult road ahead, Maher cited Egyptian youth’s unwillingness to be a part of a political party as a hindrance to their goals, as it means they are being shut out of many important conversations. Maher acknowledged that they have a lot left to accomplish in “upper Egypt and poorer areas” that have been less receptive to their goals than the urban centers. When asked if he had a message for Egyptian Americans about what they can do to help, Maher called for more investment in Egypt, as well as help in monitoring the elections.

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