The Egyptian state is scared of a few internal challenges that might be defined as Egypt’s nightmares; if they blew up, the state believes, the damage would be irreversible. Fortunately, however, what the Egyptian state now perceives as internal threats could easily be turned into strong points — if the state were to better manage these challenges.
First, Egypt should realize that its diversity is society’s strength. Putting tremendous efforts into uniting all Egyptians to espouse a single opinion is undermining the fact that Egypt is by default a diversified society; our diversity has helped us to live together and tolerate one another for thousands of years. Adopting a narrow-minded perspective toward our diverse opinions is a clear obstruction to our progress and prosperity. Egypt will only prosper with the help of a variety of opinions producing plenty of ideas, which the state should take steps to transform into functional policies.
Second, accept that organizations shape the masses better. Mobilizing the masses is a daily preoccupation for the state, particularly since most of our population is poor and illiterate. The state attempts to undertake this task exclusively, working on weakening political parties and civil society, which has resulted in diminishing the role of the entire society in favor of the state’s “iron-grip” delusion.
Political Islamist entities that know how to organize underground, thereby undermining the state itself, must be tackled by strong political parties and civil society organizations that work on giving citizens true and valid alternatives to the falsehoods and fabrications spread by these entities.
Third, our nation’s energy is its youth. Egyptian youth constitute a source of permanent trauma for the state; this will only change by channeling their energy into positive action. Engaging our youth in proper political forces, knowing that some will support the government and others will oppose it, is the only means by which we can exploit their energy productively.
The regular conferences organized by the state, at which the president engages with a tiny selected segment of state-affiliated youth, leave the remaining millions of young Egyptians who disagree with the president’s policies angry and frustrated — increasing the danger that they will be drawn into releasing their energy in destructive ways.
Fourth, there is much entrepreneurship that we do not recognize. In Egypt, the essence of entrepreneurship, whereby people with ideas can raise funds and expertise to proceed with their projects, is not even recognized. The state believes that Egyptians elected the president because of their confidence in his ideas and economic approach, and because they want the government to be the sole implementer of these ideas. In fact, broadening the nation’s horizon and enabling its people to identify and tackle business opportunities will open our country to more functional ideas, which we urgently need at present.
Much of what the state views as challenges to be faced down are in fact opportunities to be exploited.
Fifth, a monologue is not a dialogue. “Listen only to me” is a message that the president often repeats. In fact, it is the president who should listen to the people more; listening in the sense of establishing a dialogue, especially with those who differ with his policies.
If everyone was happy with the government’s performance, which is not the current case, there would be no need to establish any kind of conversation. A constructive dialogue with the president would help our country to overcome the chronic problems that we have been living with.
In summary, assisting political parties to be better organized would help to accommodate more young people and work on avoiding their involvement in destructive behavior, while acknowledging the diversity within our society and enabling people to express their opinions and establish their businesses — which would promote our country’s prosperity.
Moreover, establishing an open, constructive dialogue between the president and his opponents would help to bridge the current widening political and economic chasm. Completely altering Egyptians’ social norms to correspond to the state’s limited capacity is constraining our potential. Politics is about using the most suitable tools to apply the best tactics that will eventually enhance the stability and prosperity of our country.
• Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt, is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom. Twitter: @MohammedNosseir