It was not just a fluke when young Hassan Al-Mezainy rushed up to General Khaled Foda, governor of South Sinai, accusing him of being stubborn and slacking when it came to Bedouin interests. A number of elders and wise men of the Muzaina tribe were present when the outburst occurred at the Fayrouz Experimental Secondary school, where the governor happened to be doing his rounds checking on the parliamentary elections. Sheikh Abdullah Braik, president of Babu Radis village, maintains that the Egyptian revolution has arrived to the largest and most famous tribe in South Sinai, the Muzaina.
Youth rush to parliament
"Muzaina youth are in a revolution against their elders' silence," said Awda Salem, one such youth, about the situation in the southern peninsula. "Sinai's youth are prepared to demand international protection of their rights and of infrastructure which is provided to big investors without any regard to newcomers and Bedouins who are true owners of the land."
While for many youth, revolution was about breaking the silence, it went well past that for an unprecedented number that nominated themselves for parliamentary elections in hopes of earning membership to enable them to fight for their tribe and its problems. With 13 of its youth members running for elections, the Muzaina tribe finds itself in a tough spot, fearing that this high number of candidates would divide the votes and have a negative impact on election results.
The revolution is unfinished
The rebellion of the Muzaina youth and their bold statements are surprising to the extent that they raise suspicions. It was difficult to understand such vocal praise for the revolution and its effect of liberating minds and breaking elders' control in a governorate which, despite the marginalisation of Bedouins, was once practically the property of the NDP.
Sheikh Nasser Ramadan Abu Braik, official spokesperson for the Aqaba Gulf Bedouins from the Muzaina tribe, believes that revolution has arrived to the tribe. Every person now has their own opinion and the youth no longer listen to the tribe's chief despite their customary respect for elders. According to Abu Braik, the reason why the tribe's elders did not meet and select specific individuals to represent Muzaina is because they wanted to leave it up to the people to choose whom they preferred, especially after the revolution which rejected despotism.
However, numerous sources have noted a clear inclination within the tribe towards voting for specific individuals, some of whom are new to the political arena and others that are essentially NDP remnants. Such voting bias revealed that the revolution that shook the seats of Muzaina elders has only provided the tribe the freedom to nominate, while much of the tribe's voting behaviour remains under the control of the same norms that existed prior to the revolution. Sheikh Hassan Hameed, one of Muzaina's wise men, said the individual seat battle is practically decidedly between three candidate choices from the tribe, Jumah Hassan, Saleh Hameed, and Faraj Braik, the latter being an ex-NDP member of the People's Assembly for three consecutive terms.
*Uncredited pictures provided by journalist.