Publicado em 4 de janeiro de 2005
Traduções disponíveis em: français . Español .

Objectives and activities

We had two objectives for 2004:

  1. Carrying out a sociological study on the sense of responsibility as it is perceived, lived out and practised by the Egyptian population.
  2. Producing of a documentary film on this issue.

Sociological study

For financial reasons, we decided to start with the sociological study. We surveyed almost 300 people, characterised as follows:

  1. Age: between 16 and 70.
  2. Gender: 120 women, more than a third of the total surveyed.
  3. Religion: inclusion of Christians (though predominantly Muslim, 1/5th of the Egyptian population is Christian).
  4. Region: Upper Egypt, Delta region, Cairo, i.e. people from the capital, other cities, and the countryside.
  5. Education: illiterates, people with a standard education, graduates.
  6. Profession and social status:
  • Upper class: university professors, journalists, Members of parliament, physicians, engineers, landowners, bank and major corporate managers, businessmen.
  • Middle class: high school teachers, public servants, employees in the private and public sectors, shop-owners, primary school teachers, security managers, media staff, writers.
  • Lower class: various levels, including the sheikhs that give the Friday sermon in mosques, farmers, illiterate and unemployed women, cleaners, central security soldiers, street-vendors, servants, dressmakers, minor government or trade employees, bus or van drivers, small-scale craftspeople.

As well as (present in all these categories): students, activists of political parties, trade unions, NGOs, human rights groups, research centres, religious groupings (liberal or fundamentalist), and people who belong to one of these groups to some extent but don’t regularly partake in their activities.


The main findings of this survey are as follows:
Our society is in the middle of a crisis; in a context characterised by a repressive state ruled by favouritism and nepotism, where individuals have few rights and many obligations, and where the notion of responsibility remains confused, often mistaken for that of duty, which is incompatible with the concept of a freely chosen and freely assumed responsibility.

The most obvious notion of responsibility is the one emphasised in traditional views where, whether the family is nuclear (in cities) or extended (in the countryside), the man is responsible for earning the daily bread and the woman is responsible for the housework, taking care of the children and other family responsibilities.

Male and female activists talk about the need for change, but there is often a contradiction between progressive talk and day-to-day behaviour.

There is an increasing disinterest regarding public issues, as opposed to previous periods of strong social mobilisation; this disinterest is associated with responsibility being seen as familial duty: confronted with the risk of repression, one doesn’t wish to sacrifice one’s own family to commitments where the consequences are unpredictable. There were many people who said that times had changed: there was a time when one could give one’s life for one’s country, but that time is now over.

A sense of bitter impotence is added to this, due to state domination and the servility of Egyptian rulers’ to foreign powers, particularly the United States, which is considered as the source of all evils on this planet.

The richest people feel responsible for their own assets, yet totally neglect their obligations to the deprived. Middle class people live in permanent anxiety about having enough money to get through each month and about their children’s education. As for the poorest, everything seems overwhelming to them; they have no rights and feel that it is only the state that could change things but won’t.

NGO’s try to reduce the gap between ordinary people and those “in charge”, but admit they hardly succeed in achieving this. Activists prioritise resistance against repression and the promotion of farmers’ and labourers’ rights within the country while protesting against the occupation of Iraq and defending Palestinian people’s rights outside of it.

We read and got people to read the Charter, we discussed it, and, generally speaking, the most conscious people found it to be excellent.
There were, however, some reservations. For some, the question was how the Charter should be implemented, as the proper conditions for implementing responsibility were absent. The Charter is important, but it will have no impact whatsoever as long as it lacks the concrete means to achieve its goals. In our Egyptian context where the West is quite out of favour, others fear that it will serve only western purposes. In any case, the process is now in progress, and we will need time to disseminate the Charter.

The study will of course be publicised, but we have not yet finished processing all the survey input.


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