x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Egyptians look to brighter future

Egyptians took a leap into the unknown this week as they voted in legitimate presidential elections for the first time.

Sameaha Said Esahar, 76, Sayeda Zeinab:
Sameaha Said Esahar, 76, Sayeda Zeinab: "All of the problems that brought out the youth were from the government and their low incomes. Since the time of Gamal Abdel Nasser, I've supported any kind of revolution."

Egyptians took a leap into the unknown this week as they voted in legitimate presidential elections for the first time.

For some, old suspicions remain and they fear that a candidate favoured by the military, such as Ahmed Shafiq – who also has links to the regime of the former president Hosni Mubarak – could herald a return to the Egypt of old.

But he is also seen as a counterweight to the growing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose candidate Mohammed Morsi has promised to revive the country’s economy.

While this message has broad appeal in an impoverished nation, the Brotherhood’s Islamism does not sit well with many Egyptians.

Despite having served under Mubarak, Amr Moussa has emerged as a liberal contender on the back of his experience as secretary general of the Arab League.

Below, we talk to six Egyptians who give their thoughts about the election and offer their reasons for favouring one candidate over the others.

Noush Hammad, 19 Location: Zamalek, Cairo

She cast her vote despite reservations about the fairness of elections.

“I’m sure the election is fixed behind the scenes already. It’s a charade. But, just in case it counts, I’m here.

“I’m voting for Moussa because he isn’t stupid. He’ll at least take care of things.

“We need to address our minorities and help them get basic rights and freedoms.

“I really hope none of the religious candidates take the presidency. If it’s the old system that takes it and doesn’t protect our interests, then we can have demonstrations and fight against it.

“But, if it’s a religious candidate, it will be new to experience and we’ll have to begin the fight all over again.”

Sameaha Said Esahar, 76 Location: Sayeda Zeinab

During last year’s uprising, Sameaha took to the streets of the working class district of Sayeda Zeinab and joined the protest against Mubarak’s regime.

“All of the problems that brought out the youth were from the government and their low incomes. Since the time of Gamal Abdel Nasser, I’ve supported any kind of revolution.

“Shafiq will shoulder the responsibility.

“I don’t believe he was touched by Mubarak’s corruption. My feelings for Shafiq are like when you love someone you can’t explain why you love them.

Samar Saad, 36 Location: Zamalek, Cairo

Waiting outside a polling station in the affluent district of Zamalek, Samar said she’d rather vote for what’s right, than for who will win.

“I feel liberated.

“I don’t think Shafiq will win, but I’m voting my conscience. He won’t gain something from the presidency, because he’s rich enough already.

“A lady told me she’s going to vote for him because he has two daughters and so won’t give the presidency away to a son.

“People will go back to Tahrir Square again because they think he’s part of the old regime, but it’s important to vote what I feel.

“They [the Muslim Brotherhood] are not presenting Islam. They are presenting themselves. I think they are the old regime wearing beards.”

Haggam Zenhom, 65 Location: Imbaba

He flashes a grin while he holds up his inked index finger outside a voting station in Imbaba.

Haggam said: “I feel happy. I’m voting for a person who’s about to run our country, and look out for our best interests.

“What the country needs is someone who can boost the middle class by bringing in more investment and more tourism.

“Even good people are forced to work within bad systems.

“The ship is sinking and helping the country is most important.

“Moussa has lengthy experience with foreign affairs.

“I really don’t care if he’s felool [a remnant of the old regime].”

Noha Muwan, 26Location: Sayeda Zeinab

As she stands outside the Sayeda Zeinab polling station, she says she will be happy regardless of who Egyptians choose.

“As long as it’s a free and fair election and the candidate is ready to face the reality of Egypt, I’ll support them.

“I’m not Muslim Brotherhood, but I feel like what he [Morsi] says is honest.

“With him as president, the parliament and president will be both Muslim Brotherhood and they’ll be able to do something to address the situation in Egypt”

Nour Noha, 21 Location: Imaba

The dashboard of Nour Noha’s tuk-tuk is covered with photos of his cousin and brother, whom he says were killed during the uprising last year.

As Noha stands outside the polling station in the poor district of Imbaba, he says he believes the revolution was successful.
He said: “The elections are a sign that we’re moving forward.

“Now we are finally able to choose our own president and that will change everything.”

Marwan Iman, 25 Location: Dokki

He voted in the recent parliamentary elections but this time around, he says he is staying home.

“I’m not validating the military rule this way. Back then, I thought that we had made changes, but now I realise that nothing is different.

“I’ll wait and see, but I’ve decided I’m not going to wait for a system to change. Politics will always remain the same until these old men die.

“Maybe when there’s a new generation, with new blood taking control of things, things will be cleaner. I’m fed up and I still support the people who go down and protest – but I haven’t been down there since the protests on Mohamed Mahmoud street.”

foreign.desk@thenational.ae