- Posted May 29, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Protests in Egypt: Your experiences
My take on Egypt's presidential election
This is a personal opinion based on my knowledge and experience. Many Egyptians have been fighting for freedom, democracy, justice and better economic and security conditions and for that cause, many people paid the ultimate price.
Egypt is a deeply polarized country between those who support a religious state and those who support a military state crushing in between those who refuse to take a side other than that of the revolution which seeks a civil, modern, democratic state. For years, the public opinion has been swinging from side to side. As an Egyptian writer once said “It is an empty cycle , in the absence of the civil opposition a military rule will lead to a religious rule and the religious rule will be ousted only through a military coup then after sooner or later it will lead to another religious rule. Sometimes this cycle is shortened and we find a hybrid between Islamists and military like in Sudan”
“An exceptional hero with extraordinary capabilities and sweeping popularity”, this has been the message spread by the media in attempt to create an image for general Sisi. For months the media and governmental institutions have been strongly biased towards Abdel Fatah El Sisi. This propaganda not only affected the public opinion, but also gave confidence to Sisi to an extent that he said in a televised interview that he wanted 40 million Egyptians to cast their votes in the presidential election.
Unlike all predictions, the turnout was very low on the first day, polling stations were almost empty. State media and pro-Sisi private media tried to deny that fact, but eventually admitted it. As the polling stations closed on the first day, a strong campaign powered by the media and the government started in an attempt to increase the turnout which was a source of embarrassment. The media started the attack by blaming the electoral commission for not organizing the election properly and then went on warning Egyptians of disastrous scenarios if they didn’t vote. The media also called the boycotters traitors. The government decided to give a day off on the second day of the election. Main shopping malls closed, some employers threatened their employees to vote and churches and mosques described the participation as a national and religious duty. The electoral commission also announced that it will fine non-voters and will refer them to the prosecution. The second day came with a lower turnout which lead the electoral commission to extend the vote to a third day which also saw a very low turnout. Suddenly the media changed its speech from disappointment with the low turnout to celebration with a moderate to high turnout. We suddenly heard numbers suggesting that millions went to vote even more than those who participated in previous elections. The low turnout was pretty obvious to everyone, how could things suddenly change in a short period of time?!
I think this election was not about people’s right to vote, but rather about transforming Sisi’s image from a coup leader to a democratically elected president. It was clear that the only thing they cared about was having the images of long lines of voters waiting outside the polling stations. That’s what many Egyptians felt, specially the youth and I believe that was main reason for the low turnout. There’s a widening generational gap. The Muslim brotherhood may claim it has orchestrated the boycott, the Egyptian media may claim that the reason was the hot weather and lack of organization, but no one will admit that many people felt disappointed with the whole process. I have to say it was unexpected. It’s true that many Egyptians took to the streets against the Muslim brotherhood. It’s also true that people are against terrorism and extremism, but that doesn’t mean they support the current regime with its flaws and violations, especially that Sisi has been in charge for months and he failed to improve the economic and security conditions.
Photo taken by Reuters.