x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Video of 12-year-old boy discussing Egyptian politics goes viral

'I'm here to prevent Egypt from becoming a commodity owned by one person,' boy identified as 12-year-old Ahmed Ali declares, 'and to protest the confiscation of the constitution by a single party.'

A YouTube frame grab of a 12-year-old boy being interviewed in Egypt.
A YouTube frame grab of a 12-year-old boy being interviewed in Egypt.

CAIRO // The boy in the video shrugs and gesticulates, the familiar words tumbling forth - the constitution, the social objectives of the revolution, the problems of the "fascist theocracy".

In the background is a sight now equally familiar: a demonstration with people milling around, waving Egyptian flags, engaging in the on-again, off-again struggle to redefine the most-populous Arab country in the way they see fit. In this country, whose divisions have in the past week deepened into street fighting between supporters of an elected Islamist government and the military who have deposed them, politics has become part of daily life.

For children like this boy, identified in a video uploaded to YouTube by El Wadi newspaper as Ahmed Ali, aged about 12, it also seems to have become part of their upbringing. In the video, which was posted in October last year, he explains why he has come to the demonstration.

"I'm here to prevent Egypt from becoming a commodity owned by one person," he declares, "and to protest the confiscation of the constitution by a single party."

According to a translation on the the pro-secularist website Free Arabs, which posted the video in March, he dismisses the government, then dominated by Islamist parties, as attempting to "enforce extremist regulations in the name of religion".

As the world has been mesmerised by Egypt's metamorphosis in the past two weeks from an Islamist-led democracy to a country where a huge popular movement led to a military decision to depose the president, the video has gone viral, with hundreds of thousands watching it. Some commenters are cynical the child could have come up with his analysis on his own, but others seem inspired.

When it was first posted, the comments reflected a divided country. One disapproving viewer said the boy's mother should, "have some fear of God. I would advise you to teach your child how to defend Islam". Another was jubilantly supportive. "The president of Egypt in the future, inshallah!"

afordham@thenational.ae

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