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Egypt's New Law Prohibits Politics Among Youth

Egypt's New Law Prohibits Politics Among Youth

Thursday, 26 October, 2017 - 13:00
Egyptian women line up outside a polling station in Cairo, Egypt. AP

With the approval of the Egyptian Parliament on the draft of a new youth institutions law, the Council raised what can be considered a ban for practicing any political or partisan activity within "youth centers, clubs or any entity providing sports, social health, and recreational services."

The first article of the draft legislation, which would ban members of state-owned youth clubs from engaging in political activity, stirred controversy on the house floor.

The draft law stipulates that a youth commission is "every group consisting of people having the purpose of providing care for young people through sports, social, health, recreational and other services within the framework of the general policy of the State. This body shall not directly engage in any political or partisan activity or promote any political ideas or objectives."

The population in Egypt is 40 million, including 26.8 percent of young people between 15 and 29 years.

During the plenary session of the House of Representatives to consider the draft law on Tuesday, Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said that "exercising political activities should be confined to licensed political parties only."

"There are 104 political parties operating in Egypt, and these are the ones allowed to discuss political issues and prepare political cadres and leaders," said Abdel-Aal, adding that "in line with the constitution, youth centers cannot be forums for raising political issues."

Abdel-Aal argued that "there is a difference between politics as a science and political indoctrination."

"Politics as a science includes many ideas that we study in schools and universities, but politics as an exercise aimed at indoctrinating young people to be politically active cannot be practiced at public entities such as youth clubs, which should not discriminate among its members on political and religious grounds," said Abdel-Aal.

"The ban was in the previous version of the Sports Bodies Act, but the parties were hoping to cancel that restriction," Mahmoud Faisal, the secretary of the Youth of Egypt Defenders Party, told Asharq Al-Awsat.

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