Egypt’s political background
In 2011, a mass uprising led to the overthrow of the longstanding authoritarian regime of President Hosni Mubarak. The protesters demanded bread, freedom and social justice which led to democratic elections. This was nearly the start of democracy in Egypt. But the elections were won by Mohammed Morsi, the new president of the Muslim Brotherhood. He started to pull power towards himself and his political party and created a rift in Egyptian society: you were considered either a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood regime or you were against them. In response, there was a new uprising in 2013 which led to the Egyptian Army stepping in and outing Morsi.
General o El-Sisi of the army assumed power and developed a roadmap towards a new Egyptian government. A new constitution was developed and put to a referendum in which it was accepted with a huge majority. After this, El-Sisi was elected president which was no surprise because there wasn’t a viable opposition. Under El-Sisi’s rule the Muslim Brotherhood, who had previously won the elections, are forbidden and declared a terrorist organization. The former president Mubarak has been released from prison while former president Morsi has been sentenced to death. Also, there has been a steady decrease in the amount of pro-democracy activities. The government also does not allow any other kind of protest.
The approach of NIMD in Egypt
NIMD started working in Egypt in 2012 with a programme on democracy education. This is important because having lived for so long under an authoritarian regime, most people have no democratic experience and lack the skills and knowledge to make a difference in their communities. Together with DIPD (Danish Institute for Parties and Democracy) and the local implementing partner DEDI (Danish Egyptian Dialogue Institute), NIMD has found two local organizations who each run a democracy school. These schools aim to give young people who are active in their local communities, the knowledge and skills for working in a democratic culture. By mid 2014, about 180 people had completed this programme. Some of them are members of political parties, some work in civil society organizations, but they all are active in their local communities. It is hoped that by giving these young people the skills and knowledge to work in a democratic way, this will spread to their peers and later filter through to changes at a national level.
The curriculum of the NIMD school was developed by NIMD’s local partners in collaboration with a local university. The curriculum is currently being turned into an e-learning course in Arabic which will make the content available to many more people in Egypt and other Arab countries.
Read more about the Egyptian democracy schools on their website. The website contains the online learning environment, information about the schools and online platforms for alumni to talk to each other and exchange ideas.