Day before historic presidential elections kick off, citizens revel in newfound freedoms, but fear Muslim Brotherhood victory
“The peace treaty with Israel will be upheld regardless of whether the next president will be an Islamist or a remnant of the Mubarak regime,” a 20-year-old Egyptian literature student told Ynet late Monday, a little more than 24 hours before Egypt‘s first post-Mubarak presidential election is due to kick off.
“Everyone is pleased that we are finally electing our president, with no restrictions,” said Mahmoud, from the Qalyubia district near Cairo.
He said that despite the enthusiasm, Egyptians are “worried about the possibility of irregularities or that a remnant of the Mubarak regime will win the election.”
Mahmoud said he will vote for Muslim Brotherhood‘s candidate, Mohamed Morsy, “because of his platform and respectable political history.”
He estimated that the peace agreement with Israel will be upheld regardless of who is elected president. “The difference between the candidates is that those who belonged to (former President Hosni) Mubarak’s regime do not defend the Palestinian nation’s right to establish a state,” Mahmoud told Ynet.
Amar Zacharya, a 40-year-old father of three from Giza, said “whoever is elected president will not act as Mubarak did, because he will know that Egypt has changed and that the people will watch his every move. He will not be able to be corrupt.
Zacharya, who translates texts from Hebrew to Arabic, said he will vote for independent candidate Mohammad Salim Al-Awa, a religious Islamist scholar who studied abroad. “He is a moderate whose slogan is justice, and this is what we are missing – justice in everything,” Zacharya said.
According to him, “there is no way” that a candidate will win the election in the first round, which begins Wednesday. “I think Amr Moussa (former Arab League chief and foreign minister in Mubarak’s government) has a very good chance. The Muslim Brotherhood lost a lot of support following its victory in the parliamentary elections, because the people do not want them to take control of the entire country.”
According to Zacharya, the candidates are lashing out at Israel in order to depict themselves as patriots in the eyes of potential voters. “It’s not beneficial to the relations between the two countries. If someone in Israel would declare that Egypt is an enemy, Cairo would not be pleased either,” he said, but added that he was in favor of revising the 1979 peace agreement.
“Changing a few details would also help Israel, because Egypt’s security is also important for Israel’s security,” he claimed.
Abd al-Halam, a 24-year-old engineer from the Sohag district, said whoever wins the election will “treat Israel with respect, even if not publicly.”
“Israel is a major force, and anyone who denies this is either ignorant or crazy,” he told Ynet.
Al-Halam said he feared the election of a former Mubarak-regime official would ignite another round of violence in Egypt. However, he is also concerned that a victory by the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate would result in Egypt becoming an Islamist country.
“Some people regret having voted for the Muslim Brotherhood in the parliamentary elections, so its support base has significantly dwindled,” he said.
“Personally, if the Muslim Brotherhood take control of the country and we turn into Iran, I’ll leave,” al-Halam said.
“The young people started the revolution so that Egypt would serve all its citizens, not just one faction.”
By Roi Kais