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Tomorrow is the first of two days set for voting in our upcoming Presidential elections. The two people running this year are, the famous General Al Sisi, and the third runner up in the previous Presidential elections, Mr. Hamdeen Sabahi. Each of the candidates has had enough opportunities to show their strong points and to try to persuade the voting public to choose them. Yesterday and today are the two days of complete silence from both parties, to give the public enough quiet time to finally make up their minds.
I shall not talk about the pros and cons of each candidate, but will talk about what I see is happening in Egypt now. We are at the zenith of the war waged against us. The fourth generation war. The war where brother is set against brother. The war where Egyptians are recruited to kill Egyptians. The war where the Egyptian media through some who have been either persuaded or bought, work on planting the seeds of doubt and contention among the public.
Despite the fact that there are attempts at making trouble between Christians and Moslems through some very naive posters that were plastered on the cathedral’s walls, and although there are very strong attempts at splintering the vote, at persuading, especially the youth, to abstain; although there are huge amounts of money exchanging hands to ensure the success of these plans, yet, strangely enough, the general feeling in town, and seemingly all over the country, is one of euphoria. It has been a very long time since the Egyptian public has felt happy. These days people on the street are grinning from ear to ear. Music is blaring everywhere, especially the new, fast-beat song called, appropriately, “Good Omen”! The current running joke is that all women must start a crash diet to lose enough weight to enable them keep up with this much faster beat than that of the previous song “Teslam el Ayady” which meant “bless the hands” (of the army). Another joke is that queues for women will be divided into two, those over 35 dancing to Teslam el Ayady, and those under, dancing to Boshret Kheir (Good Omen). With a P.S. At the end that they should not forget to vote too!!
This feeling of happiness, of optimism, has nothing to do with the actual state of the country. Things could not have been worse, economically and even security wise. The continuous threat by the MB and actual assassination of police and army personnel, as well as the random threats of bombs and a few that actually go off, make for a rather insecure feeling, a threat to life and limb. The economy is at a very low ebb and unemployment is on the rise. The whole aspect is bleak. And yet, individuals that make up the whole, are inexplicably cheerful. The only explanation lies in the soaring hope aroused in the people by Al Sisi. The more the man talks, the more popular he becomes. A highly intelligent man, he is strongly tuned to the mood of the people. Very empathetic, cleverly demonstrative, he gives the people what they need. He gives, in turn, reassurance, protection, strength, tenderness, piety, common sense and pride. He strives, through his own behavior to set a precedent of good manners, integrity and respect. So many elements that have been missing in our public figures for so long. Also the last year of the MB rule was one where we hit rock bottom where all the above were concerned. Not only were flagrant lies the norm, but the very essence of integrity was inconceivable. Principles were a thing of the past and good behavior was laughed at. These were very dark days indeed, they left their imprint on the Egyptian psyche and caused a great deal of depression, both individual and collective. The very fact that we are now rid of these people from the government of Egypt, despite the fact that they still exist in the form of terrorists, this fact has lightened people’s depression. More importantly, that the people are about to go, vote in, the man whom they deemed saved them from the dark ages, is infusing excitement and happiness all over.
If these elections are anything like the referendum on the constitution which took place mid January, then I expect to find a circus. I am assigned to the same school where I cast my ballot last time. It is in a rather poor area but full of people and those adorable little Tok-Tok three-wheeled cars used in lieu of public transportation. So I expect again a cacophony of sound, a rainbow of colors and a roller coaster of movement and traffic. I shall try to go early to finish early so as not to have to stand in a queue in the sun and the heat.
Tomorrow we will probably be inundated by people holding up their fingers which have been immersed into the phosphoric indelible ink, denoting having cast your ballot, now a sign of proud patriotism. Then starting the day after, if voting is not prolonged one more day, the excitement of the exit polls, the counting, and finally, though not officially, an assessment of who won and by how large a margin. We shall not get the official results in till, I think June 5, giving enough time for any complaints to be investigated and reviewed. But a few hours after the end of voting we would be able yo have a pretty good idea how things went.
I am looking forward to casting my ballot tomorrow, and hope that my candidate wins.
25 May 2014