In preparation for the upcoming parliamentary elections, most media outlets maintain their focus on the main cities, home to most of the decision-making and most political parties’ headquarters.
Throughout the last two years, the Sinai Peninsula has witnessed many incidents with the state confronting militants, leaving heavy causalities on both sides.
Amid the security turmoil in the peninsula, politicians, activists, parties and electoral coalitions are preparing for the upcoming elections, which are set to take place next month.
Daily News Egypt interviewed Na’sa Ibrahim, a female Bedouin activist from South Sinai who will run individually for the seat in the Ras Sidr and Al-Tor electoral district.
Part of the Al-Oliakat tribe, Na’sa is the only female candidate to run for parliament, and presented her official papers to the court Saturday.
Why do you want to run for the coming elections? What are the objectives that you aim to achieve if you are elected?
Running for the elections was not a new decision for me, as I have been in the political and social scene in South Sinai for 15 years now. The parliament seems to be a good opportunity and channel to achieve more effective goals. South Sinai needs a lot of work and has a lot of problems. If I get elected, I will aim to work with the governorate to transform South Sinai into an industrial area. The city includes diverse and rich raw materials. Instead of transferring the material to other factories in Cairo and the main cities, we can have our own factories. This will employ thousands of young people, and will solve the problem of unemployment, as well as creating infrastructure. The outside world, investors and residents of other governorates should stop seeing Sinai as only a touristic area.Many Egyptians have died liberating Sinai, and lots suffered. We should reward those who suffered by developing Sinai.
How can the state help with this?
The state can intervene to eliminate all difficulties against young people to invest and work in South Sinai. We shouldn’t completely depend on foreign investment. There are the initiatives to give small loans to young investors as capital to start projects. I want to work with the government to make this easier for young people by facilitating the bureaucratic process. Another factor in which the next parliament can help the youth is by facilitating the process of owning land. We should depend on underground waters and rain. In instances, young people step up to develop agricultural land and farming, but they lack the necessary infrastructure, like electricity.
As a woman in a tribal community, do you feel you will face any sort of prejudices in running in the elections? And why do you see yourself capable of handling the position of a parliament member?
In recent years, women in Sinai have proved to be efficient community leaders. I have been a member of the local council in South Sinai for two consecutive rounds. This was done with the support of my tribe and other members of the community. Women now have a voice and the different situation in Sinai due to the different wars and the current struggle for stability and against terrorism proved that women are as important as men. I have been a member of the in different councils that have dealt with investment, women’s affairs, and Bedouin rights. I don’t feel any prejudice because I am a woman, because I work from the field and encounter the people and touch upon their problems. So people see who is effective and willing to solve their problems. However, not all of the tribes agree to this. We expect more tolerance from them in the next period.
There is a point that is always discussed about tribalism and the empowerment of the youth. Some say that the tribes only support older men, and not youth. What is your comment on this?
I disagree; the situation has changed now. In recent years, most of the candidates were young men. And in many cases, they have proven effective in representing the people. The only challenge they face might be the financial support.
Keeping in mind the security situation in North Sinai, is there any cooperation between candidates from South and North Sinai? Does the current insurgency there affect tourism in places like Dahab and Sharm El-Sheikh?
Yes, there is coordination between myself and active candidates in the North. There is no difference between the North and the South. If the North is for example attacked, this will affect the South. Nowadays, terrorism does not differentiate, and has spread to other main cities in the country. In tourism, for example, foreigners and local tourists sometimes do not differentiate between the two, which scares them.
What do you think of the current struggle between the state and the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood?
It is not a struggle. The state is struggling against all entities and forces that are supporting terrorism. We know that there are other foreign countries and organisations that support terrorism. In the upcoming period, I hope that the youth become more aware of their surroundings and involved in the building of their countries.
Who are your main competitors?
I don’t have competitors from other parties, because I don’t belong to certain entities. I want to represent the people, and not any organisation.
Elections in South Sinai will take place between 26 and 27 April.