Cairo’s Muslim Youth
Olivia Arthur documents how young Muslims living in Cairo are promoting an affirming message of moderate Islam
The change in attitude towards religion in Egypt can easily be seen in the streets of Cairo. “You hardly see any women without the hijab these days,” complained my (Christian) translator. But for the young women who fill the cafes and shopping malls with their brightly coloured headscarves, this is not a regressive, conservative change. It is more about showing a sense of pride for their religion and reaffirming their Muslim identity.
Islam has long been influential in Egyptian society, and in 1980 an amendment to the constitution declared that any new legislation being considered must be done so in accordance with Islamic Law. But the changes in society that have taken place in the past few years have come not from the government but from general population and in particular the young.
Young Muslim activists grown out of this new feeling of religious pride, are promoting a message of moderate Islam and using cinema, TV and the internet to spread it. Mostafa Nagar, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, writes a blog called Waves in the Sea of Change and Dalia Ziada, a Muslim feminist who started a human-rights film festival in Cairo are two examples.
Their belief is that Islam today is often misunderstood and distorted and they would like to show that religion is not incompatible with the modern way of life that so many young people in their country currently enjoy.