More political parties and youth from across the country have announced their intention to boycott the National Youth Conference which is sponsored by the presidency and scheduled to take place on Tuesday in Sharm El-Sheikh.
The Youth Union of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party announced their decision to boycott the youth forum by citing the dozens of young people across Egypt who were arrested in 2016 for protesting and expressing their opinion.
The union added that the aspiration of the young is to reach democracy and social justice and, currently, that is something outside the range of the Egyptian authority’s agendas. What will happen during the conference“cannot be deemed serious or real dialogue between different political parties”.
The union received an invitation from the Ministry of Youth and Sports to attend the conference.
At the beginning of the year, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi declared that 2016 would be the year of the youth. His statements that Egyptian youth would witness improvements and new opportunities in their lives has suffered harsh criticism throughout the year, as security crackdowns and human rights violations against young people have marred the image of his government.
Another four democratic parties including the Socialist People’s Alliance party (SPAP), the Egyptian Popular Current party (EPCP), and Al-Karama and Al-Dostour parties announced on Friday that they also decided to boycott the conference, according to a statement released by the SPAP on Friday.
Many have taken to social media to discuss the idea of the boycott. A petition was started on Saturday for people to express their rejection of the forum.
In a joint statement, those organising the petition said that the conference comes as continuation of several events throughout the year that students and youth have organised to discuss the issues facing them and their communities. From those discussions, nothing in the state apparatus has changed, making the whole process futile.
Young people also said that this event comes after a year of marginalisation and repressive practices against them, adding that the Egyptian authority does not believe in democratic dialogue, does not welcome diversity, and rejects alterative plans or suggestions from their generation.
They described the conference as the state’s attempt to “rewrite the narrative of its relation with its youth”. They concluded that their issues will never be understood by the state.
Meanwhile, other parties and figures believe that the forum will be an important step for the state’s relation with young Egyptians. Al-Tagammu, Al-Wafad, Free Egyptians, Al-Moatmar, Al-Tahrir and other parties have accepted invitations to attend the conference.
Member of parliament in the Youth and Sports Committee, Mohamed Shehata, previously stated that the forum is an importance measure for connecting the state and young people in order address their aspirations and suggestions. The MP added that his committee will support the conference and asserted that its continuation is significant.
The three-day forum will discuss a number of issues that concern society, focusing particularly on youth issues. High-ranking officials, as well as prominent state and public figures will attend the conference, during which eight workshops and 20 general sessions in political, social, and economic fields will be held.
The some of the political parties that chose to boycott the event have been politically marginalised and prevented from participating in the political scene since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi. A large number of youth activists and politicians are currently being held in prison due to opposing state policies and criticising its performance.