Arts and Culture in the Mideast
- Published on Thursday, 24 May 2012 06:53
- Category: World News
The streets of Cairo were more quiet than usual, yet everything seemed ordinary except for a sense of anticipation in the air. Half of the Egyptian public sector was allowed to take a day off, divided between Wednesday and Thursday to participate in Egypt’s first presidential elections.
Polling stations at local schools opened as early as seven in the morning, where Egyptians lined up to be a part of history in the making. Some were seen to be emotional, even teary eyed, as they are able to freely make a choice for who would be president of the new Egypt. Not everyone chose to vote early in the morning, some even resorted to voting later in the afternoon because of the heat. Others opted until tomorrow to decide the fate of their country’s future.
Regardless, there was a sense of excitement all around. Many dabbled themselves in conversations on street corners and in cafes, names like “Amr Moussa,” “Aboul Fotouh,” and “Shafiq” were often thrown around. A cab driver declared he would vote for Ahmed Shafiq, Prime Minster under President Husni Mubarak. “At least he has experience already,” he declared.
Some Egyptians have resorted to this sort of rhetoric, preferring someone from the old regime (Arabic term is “felool” or remnants) to someone new, for fears of things becoming worse post-January 25th Revolution. Whereas other Egyptians were not willing to take the burden, a college graduate preferred to “abstain from voting” which was a commonly held view. There was also the Islamist fear factor involved, “Anyone but an Islamist,” a middle-aged Egyptian cab exclaimed.
An unexpected rise in popularity was that of known Nasserite, Hamdeen Sahbahi. It is becoming known that he is admired by the youth, particularly after many deemed the first presidential debate between the top-polling candidates -- Amr Moussa and Aboul Fotouh -- as failures.
There were also interesting developments throughout the day. Presidential candidates Amr Moussa and Ahmed Shafiq were unknowingly to vote at the same school and at the same time in New Cairo, where they both resided. Luckily, this potential obstruction was corrected before anyone could watch it take place. Ironically in a turn of events, Shafiq was chased away after voting with chants of ''Down with Felool and down with the bonbon candidate”.
Watch the video here
An equally random incident was when Field Marshall Mohamed Tantawi, chairman of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) visited a polling station in Abbassiya. When Tantawi arrived, a man yelled, “Hey, I’ve been waiting for three hours! What are you going to do about it?” (via Matt McBradley).
Rumors of election fraud did emerge, from various sources. A woman was apparently arrested after taking a photo of her ballot to receive compensation from the Shafiq campaign (via @Beltrew). Similarly, some violations were noted in the Suez region of Egypt, where campaigners for Aboul Fotouh were spotted. As the days pass by, further developments of fraud will probably be reported.
For safety measures, over 1,800 ambulances were put on stand-by for an emergency, and 150,000 troops were deployed to keep security. Albeit not one being in sight in the areas of Zamalek, Dokki, and around the Tahrir Square.
The votes are to be counted by Saturday, but the announcement will be made at latest by May 29th. If a candidate does not receive more than 50% of the vote, a second round is expected to take place between the top two contenders on the 16th and 17th of June.By Holly Dagres, Aslan Media Contributor