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British Ambassador visits Alexandria, and says: "These future leaders need support and opportunities to be part of a free and strong civil society."
British Ambassador John Casson was in Alexandria on Sunday 22 March for meetings with youth and civil society organisations, many of which have received support from Britain’s $50 million of project funding in ُEgypt since 2011. Casson’s meetings aimed to explore how Britain can support Egyptians to grow active, empowered citizens and accountable institutions as the basis for stability, democracy and prosperity in Egypt.
In Alexandria Casson was also due to meet leaders from civil society and government, including the Governor of Alexandria, Hany El-Messiry. The visit takes him back to the city where he studied Arabic in 2014, and he celebrated by launching a new hashtag on his Twitter site: #ReasonstolikeAlexandria
Casson’s programme in Alexandria on Sunday 22 March began with him participating in a session of the Model UK Parliament, a project run by the “Make a Contribution” Club Alexandria and funded by the British Embassy in Cairo. The project gives up to 150 young Alexandrians the opportunity to simulate real sessions of the British Parliament, which gives England the name “the mother of parliaments” for its influence on democratic systems around the world.
Casson also led a question and answer session with 50 students learning English at the Alexandria office of the British Council. Finally, he and British Consul-General in Alexandria, Caroline Alcock, met more than 30 civil society activists based and working in Alexandria, to discuss the key challenges and opportunities in their work on social, economic and political issues.
Speaking during the visit, Casson said:
“I have come to Alexandria because it would be a huge mistake for an Ambassador just to sit in Cairo talking to high level officials. I want to listen to the voices of all Egyptians – young and old, from the capital and from the other cities and governorates. Because no one knows what Egypt needs like Egyptians themselves. Egypt will succeed when all Egyptians have opportunities to work, to make a difference to society and to have a political voice.
“I have been inspired by the young Alexandrians I met today. This new generation of young Egyptians is active, dynamic, and passionate about seeing positive change in their country. They are Egypt’s greatest asset and I am confident that they will be Egypt’s next generation of leaders whether in politics, business, arts and culture.
“These future leaders need support and opportunities to be part of a free and strong civil society. That is vital to growing the roots of democracy in Egyptian soil as the basis of a more secure, prosperous, and democratic Egypt. That’s why Britain will continue to support the growth of democratic institutions in Egypt and opportunities for young people and strong civil society organisations. they should not be seen as a threat to Egypt’s future but the best reason for optimism about it. “