It must be lonely for Emad El-Dafrawi. A 24-year-old Egyptian graduate of media studies, he is one of only two self-proclaimed conscientious objectors in a country where the military today doubles as the executive.
“I’m a pacifist, an anti-militarist, a campaigner,” he says. An amateur linguist and technology freak, this Cairo resident could be as carefree as the next youngster, were it not for the threat of immediate arrest looming over him — a result of his decision to dodge the Egyptian draft. Dafrawi deferred his military service until after completing university, but then simply did not appear at the conscription office on his assigned date of January 13.
“I believe that recruitment and military service are a kind of slavery, but military service in Egypt is even worse,” he says. “People don’t have rights, they’re humiliated almost all the time, they receive no medical insurance. People can get killed and their body will be returned to their family [with] 200-300 Egyptian pounds [$33-$50]. This is very little. It’s very cheap and very insulting.”