Objectives and activities
by Amina RACHID
We had two objectives for 2004:
For financial reasons, we decided to start with the sociological study. We surveyed almost 300 people, characterised as follows:
As well as (present in all these categories): students, activists of political parties, trade unions, NGOs, human rights groups, research centres, religious groupings (liberal or fundamentalist), and people who belong to one of these groups to some extent but don’t regularly partake in their activities.
The main findings of this survey are as follows:
The most obvious notion of responsibility is the one emphasised in traditional views where, whether the family is nuclear (in cities) or extended (in the countryside), the man is responsible for earning the daily bread and the woman is responsible for the housework, taking care of the children and other family responsibilities.
Male and female activists talk about the need for change, but there is often a contradiction between progressive talk and day-to-day behaviour.
There is an increasing disinterest regarding public issues, as opposed to previous periods of strong social mobilisation; this disinterest is associated with responsibility being seen as familial duty: confronted with the risk of repression, one doesn’t wish to sacrifice one’s own family to commitments where the consequences are unpredictable. There were many people who said that times had changed: there was a time when one could give one’s life for one’s country, but that time is now over.
A sense of bitter impotence is added to this, due to state domination and the servility of Egyptian rulers’ to foreign powers, particularly the United States, which is considered as the source of all evils on this planet.
The richest people feel responsible for their own assets, yet totally neglect their obligations to the deprived. Middle class people live in permanent anxiety about having enough money to get through each month and about their children’s education. As for the poorest, everything seems overwhelming to them; they have no rights and feel that it is only the state that could change things but won’t.
NGO’s try to reduce the gap between ordinary people and those “in charge”, but admit they hardly succeed in achieving this. Activists prioritise resistance against repression and the promotion of farmers’ and labourers’ rights within the country while protesting against the occupation of Iraq and defending Palestinian people’s rights outside of it.
We read and got people to read the Charter, we discussed it, and, generally speaking, the most conscious people found it to be excellent.
The study will of course be publicised, but we have not yet finished processing all the survey input.