How does a media campaign spread morality among Egyptian society? The answer is science.
In a Machiavellian society like ours, teaching our children morals should be the first step towards societal reform; but, instead, we are busy teaching them bigotry, racism, and how to make money, chase tail, and marry rich. The fact that we are becoming an increasingly immoral society doesn’t seem to be bothering anyone. Akhlaquna is a campaign initiated by Egypt’s former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa and Youth and Sports Minister Khaled AbdulAzeez, aiming to restore the country’s long lost ethics and shine a light on Egyptian society’s moral virtues.
The campaign focuses on nine core principles: love, mercy, cooperation, initiative, empathy, simplicity, justice, tolerance, equality, and perfection. “So much hard work by so many people went into this,” shared the campaign’s Brand and Strategy Consultant Osman Badran. “Dr. Ali Gomaa led these efforts and he was the one who managed to get the government involved and get the Ministry of Youth and Sports’ endorsement.” The idea behind the media campaign is based on a book called Faith and the Age by Amr Khaled, Amr El Werdany, and Ali Gomaa. “The book deals with the role that moral values can play in the progress and prosperity of a society,” Badran explained. “The real challenge was how to break down these moral values and somehow spoon feed to the people,” he added.
Instead of pointing out our moral shortcomings as a society, Akhlaquna highlights positive examples in our midst. One such example is outstanding Egyptian Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Magdi Yacoub, who has spent a lifetime investing his time, talents, knowledge, and expertise in countless pro bono cases. “You could preach for years and no one will listen to you,” Badran said. As such, this is not your typical religious awareness campaign; according to Badran, the concept behind it is based on science and sociology rather than evangelism. “We want to test and understand what is behind this phenomenon so we can fix it. There are atheists out there who have better moral values and ethics than many believers, so it is not about one’s religion or even social class,” he asserts.
To spread this message far and wide and have it echo among society, Badran and his peers had to adopt a novel and inclusive approach. The media campaign takes the form of TV advertisements, and digital and billboard campaigns, shining a light on our own goodness as a nation. “We want to tell people to look around them and they will find decent people doing good,” he says. The scientific truth is that morality can be contagious; when you see people conducting themselves in a responsible way, you begin to adopt these manners in turn, and that is the ultimate goal of the campaign. “We want people to borrow moral values from each other,” he added. “Our ads are actually designed to trigger questions and to provide food for thought.”
Akhlaquna comes at a time when Egyptians need to truly focus on the basic values and principles of being a decent human being. “Religion has been reduced to rituals and dress code rather than its actual message: morality,” Badran explains.
At a time when we demand equality, justice, and democracy, we as individuals and members of this society seem to have failed to extend these very courtesies to one another. The opening line of the campaign’s first TV ad is “Ethics create achievements.” This should come as a wakeup call to a nation in revolt. “You need to consider how you treat your family, your friends, your peers at work, and even how you treat strangers,” Badran said.