Monday, June 11, 2012

Shafiq 4; Moursi 0; Abstention 2

The presidential run-off is less than a week away, and by any account it is an unsatisfying choice for many Egyptians: Shafiq, a remnant of the Mubarak regime; Moursi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader. Many activists and professionals we know find the choice insulting and many can't imagine themselves voting for either one. Some plan to "spoil" their ballots by voting for both, an alternative that would preserve the right and action of voting, but at the same time giving no advantage to either candidate. Cairo is plastered with huge, high quality posters of both candidates. Upon arrival on this trip, I spoke with every person I came in contact with while reaching and getting settled in the hotel, in order to get a sense of the pulse from the ground. The Christian grandmother that sat next to me on the flight from Amman found the choice impossible. For her, Shafiq would signal a return to the Mubarak regime, and the thought of Moursi frightens her. She reports hearing that he - the Muslim Brotherhood candidate - would have Christians' throats slit. Otherwise, Moursi to her is deceptive and two-faced. The young man who was first in the tagteam of greeters at the airport was clearly for Shafiq. He will bring strength and stability. He handed me off to the the middle-aged driver, who started out more diplomatically saying it was a difficult choice, but by the end of the 30 minute drive had made clear that Shafiq is the only reasonable choice. Moursi is unknown, and dangerous. A young male receptionist at the hotel said that the choice is impossible and that he wouldn't vote. Another proclaimed clearly for Shafiq. He admitted to some self-consciousness about his preference, noting that some of his friends criticize him for wantiing to return to a police state. Not so, he says. Rather, his vote would be for stability. At least with Shafiq, he reasoned, he knows what he'll get, which would be a better scenario that the scary mystery of what Moursi might bring. Time now to speak with the youth of our project.