Young Egyptian political organizers leading Old Guard in anti-government protests: NYT

Cairo, Jan.31 (ANI): In the midst of the ongoing unrest in Egypt, an informal clique of Internet-savvy young political organizers could become the effective leaders of a decades-old opposition movement previously dominated by figures more than twice their age.

The New York Times quoted Amr Ezz, a 27-year-old lawyer who was one of the group as part of the April 6 Youth Movement, as saying that: "Most of us are under 30."

According to the NYT, there were surprised and delighted to see that more than 90,000 people had signed up online to participate, emboldening others to turn out and bringing tens of thousands of mostly young people into the streets.

Surprised by the turnout, older opposition leaders from across the spectrum - including the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood; the liberal protest group the Egyptian Movement for Change, known by its slogan, "Enough"; and the umbrella group organized by Dr. ElBaradei - joined in, vowing to turn out their supporters for another day of protest on Friday.

The handful of young online organizers continues calling the shots. They have decided to follow a blueprint similar to last Tuesday, urging protesters to converge on the central Liberation Square.

They have drawn up a list of selected mosques around Cairo where they have asked people to gather at Friday Prayer before marching together toward the square.

Then they distributed the list through e-mail and text messages, which spread virally.

They even told opposition leader Dr. Mohamed El Baradei, returning to Cairo from Vienna for the protests, which mosque he should attend, people involved in the demonstrations said.

"What we were hoping for is to have the same turnout as the 25th, so we wouldn't lose the numbers we had already managed to mobilize," Ezz said.

The huge uprising has stirred speculation about whether Egypt's previously fractious opposition could unite to capitalize on the new momentum, and about just who would lead the nascent political movement.

The major parties and players in the Egyptian opposition met throughout the day Sunday to address those questions, ultimately selecting a committee led by Dr. El Baradei to negotiate directly with the Egyptian military over forming a transition government.

"The young people are still leading this," said Ibrahim Issa, a prominent opposition intellectual who attended some of the meetings.

And the older figures, most notably Dr. El Baradei, have so far readily accepted the young activists' lead.

"He has been very responsive. He is very keen on being the symbol, and not being a leader," said Issa.

Ezz said the group has discussed future tactics, including strikes, civil disobedience and a vigil for dead protesters, as well as music performances and speakers in Liberation Square. (ANI)

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