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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ali Ahmed, Egypt's Boy Wonder

In an interview by Egyptian news outlet El Wady, Ali Ahmed displays unbelievably astute observation and intelligent commentary on his country’s political, social, and religious condition, considering he’s only twelve years old. TWELVE YEARS OLD! I bet many of our politicians can’t even spell “fascist theocracy.”

I am awed— I am humbled!—by this kid’s intelligence and cogent observations. This video has gone viral these past few days.

Although the interview occurred last October, his views are  more relevant now than ever, as the Egyptian military removed from office President Mohamed Morsi last week, a year after he was elected to office. 

The twelve-year-old spoke passionately on topics like religion’s undue influence on politics, society’s disingenuous treatment of women’s rights, and the lack of social justice.
The kid would put to shame even our country’s current crop of leaders—both political and religious.

Watch the interview, and weep:
(Note: the interview is conducted in Arabic; English subtitle is provided. If you are wondering about the accuracy of the translation, and you suspect that the kid is actually discussing Spider-Man's inclusion in the next Avengers movie, check out this Reddit thread)

Here is the text of the Ali Ahmed interview (you're welcome!):
Ali Ahmed: My name is Ali Ahmed, I am in 1st Grade Preparatory [12 years old]. I’m here today to help prevent Egypt from becoming a commodity owned by one person and to prevent the confiscation of the Constitution by one single party. We didn’t get rid of a military regime to replace it with a fascist theocracy.
Interviewer: Fascist theocracy? I don’t even know what that means.
Ali Ahmed: Fascist theocracy is when you manipulate religion and enforce extremist regulations in the name of religion even though religion doesn’t command that.
Interviewer: Who taught you all this?
Ali Ahmed: I just know it.
Interviewer: How did you know it?
Ali Ahmed: I listen to people a lot, and I use my own brain. Plus I read newspapers, watch TV, and search the Internet.
Interviewer: So you see that the country is not doing well and has to change?
Ali Ahmed: You mean politically or socially? The social objectives of the revolution are yet to be achieved—economic empowerment, freedom and social justice…there are still no jobs. The police still jails people randomly. As for social justice, how can a news anchor get 30 million Egyptian pounds while some people still pick food from garbage? Politically speaking, where is the Constitution that represents us? For example, women are half of the society, how come there are only seven ladies in the Constituent Assembly, six of whom are Islamists?
Interviewer: So you think they are going to manipulate the Constitution?
Ali Ahmed: What is built on falsehood is false itself. Even if the Constitution is nice but the assembly that drafted is bad, we will end up with something bad. Don’t bring me eighty good articles and twenty bad ones that will ruin the country and then tell me this is a Constitution.
Interviewer: Did you read the Constitutional draft? [Ali nods] Where on the Internet?
Ali Ahmed: Yes. For example, they say that women are equal to men in all matters except in matters that contradict Islamic law; but then Islamic law allows men to discipline their wives. This can’t work in society.
Interviewer: Why not? What’s the problem?
Ali Ahmed: The problem is that it’s outrageous. I can’t beat my wife and almost kill her and tell you this is discipline. This is not discipline; this is abuse and insanity. All of this political process is void because the Parliament in the first place is void—popularly and constitutionally void. Some parties based their campaigns on mixing religion and politics. Mosques were mobilizing voters. They distributed sugar and cooking oil to the voters and many other things like that…  

Sugar and cooking oil? Interesting. In the Philippines, politicians do it with rice, a can of sardines, and instant noodles. The Catholic priests just threaten voters with eternal damnation, should these voters vote for politicians who do not toe the Catholic line.

You know your country is in trouble when a twelve year old boy makes much more sense than your country's elected leaders. The world needs children like Ali Ahmed. 
With more kids like these, maybe there would still be hope for the planet.

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