Egyptians have been posting their support for activists supporting a campaign to end mandatory military service or conscription in Egypt.
Most Egyptian men between the ages of 18 and 30 years have to serve up to three years of compulsory military service, based on their educational qualifications and standing. There are exceptions for men with certain medical conditions or special family circumstances.
At the heart of the campaign is a Facebook page called ‘No to Compulsory Military Service,’ set up by Egyptian activists. The page has thousands of likes and has been asking Egyptians to blog, tweet and share their photographs with signs showing support for their campaign the last week.
The activists were inspired by the International Conscientious Objection Day which is held every year on May 15. Conscientious objection is refusing to participate in military services or activities. Sometimes it is based on religious beliefs as in the case of Jehova's Witnesses. Others object due to their pacifist beliefs against militarization and wars. According to War Resisters International, a global pacifist group, May 15 has been used as a chance for activists to promote conscientious objection as a form of nonviolent resistance, and tool to challenge militarism:
Hundreds of people worldwide are imprisoned for rejecting conscription, or leaving the armed forces having developed a conscientious objection to war.
Activist Ahmed Hassan, previously interviewed on Global Voices for his objection to undergo military training in his high school, shared his photograph.
Activist Mark Nabil published a testimony on his blog on being interrogated by the military intelligence in Cairo. Nabil went to Assiut’s military recruitment area to undergo a medical checkup. He was given a questionnaire on his views on military's standing and their role in Egypt's politics. When he expressed his disagreement with military policies, he was threatened and transferred for interrogation.
Twitter user Semary made fun of those who defend forced conscription yet try to avoid serving their time.
لما الجيش حلو بتباركوا لبعض ليه لما بتاخدوا اعفاء او غير لائق؟! لما التجنيد الاجباري ظريف .. ولما الجيش وطني مبتروحوش تطوعوا ليه؟!
— Semary (@Semary011) May 18, 2014
If the army is good, why do you congratulate each other when you get exempted or a medical unfitness certification. If forced conscription is nice, and if the army is patriotic, why don't you go volunteer at the army?
Finally, in a blog post, blogger Che Mottos, wrote:
ماذا لو كان هذا الشاب من الكارهين لأسلوب و طريقة إدرارة المؤسسة التى سوف يكون أحد رجالها حال إلتحاقه بـ الجيش و هى المؤسسة العسكرية ؟! ماذا لو كان هذا الشاب من الرافضين لـ تدخل هذه المؤسسة فى الحياة المدنية و السياسة المصرية ؟!
What if this young man hates the way the [military] institution is managed as he's be one of its members once he
joins the military institutions? What if this young man is against the interference of this institution in civilian life and Egyptian politics?
What are the guidelines or rules as to who does and does not need to sign up? Is this for single people only?