A critical video posted on social media got the Egyptian Amal Fathy and her husband and children into trouble. Egyptian PhD student Ali El-Hakeem thinks activists should act as objectively and respectfully as possible; only then can they stimulate change.
Amnesty International is campaigning for Amal Fathy’s release.
‘The video shows a frustrated Fathy cursing the government and all Egyptian people using bad language. I felt sorry for her and insulted at the same time. In my culture, disrespectful statements in public are taken personally and seriously while it seems to me that the Dutch are more relaxed about this. In Egypt, public insults are strictly prohibited by law. So I think it was not very smart of Fathy to share the video online.
While CNN and other media described her as an activist, Fathy’s lawyer said she was speaking as a citizen. To me, an activist raises awareness of a situation by describing it as objectively as possible. Such a person provides proof for claims and suggests improvements. I follow some Egyptians on social media who provide constructive criticism in this way. Fathy’s behaviour in the video was not in line with what I would expect of an activist.
My home country is facing multiple challenges. Food, transportation and all types of services are becoming more expensive as Egypt relies heavily on imports. This forces people to concentrate on covering their basic needs instead of innovating and developing.
I know quite a few people who are trying to stimulate positive change on a small scale. Currently, they are discouraged by bureaucracy and corruption. I believe that attracting foreign investments by decreasing corruption and investing in education and research is essential. I hope that circumstances in Egypt will change for the better in the next two years. I would like to return to my home country and find a more fertile environment for me to work in to improve the quality of life there.’