News / Middle East

Egypt's President-Elect at Home in His Village

Elizabeth Arrott
CAIRO -- The Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi will be Egypt's first freely elected president according to results announced Sunday.

Just a few months ago, the idea of Mohamed Morsi as Egypt's first post-revolution leader seemed remote at best.

But in Edwa, his home village in the eastern Nile Delta, no one seemed to doubt this native son would come out on top.

During a campaign rally,  Morsi shared his humble roots with fellow villagers.

He reminded them, “We weren't born with golden spoons in our mouths.” He recalled how his father “toiled and sweated” and would take him to work on the back of a donkey.

It's a rare moment of personal connection with a crowd. Before a large audience, he can be stiff, earning him a reputation as uncharismatic. But his wife, Nagla Ali, tells a different story.

She says she “can't say he's a comedian” but that he does have a sense of humor. “He's serious at serious times,” she adds, “[and] entertaining during down time.”

After the rally in Edwa, many of those close to him crowded into his house - one of his several homes in Egypt. Morsi does seem more relaxed surrounded by family, friends and, as he proudly points out, his ducks. The U.S.-educated engineer, whose children are U.S. citizens, can even turn a political liability into a joke.

"This is the origin of the Egyptians, in Delta Nile, so it's better to talk Arabic. If they hear me they may get angry. You understand the situation, of course,” he said.

But to Morsi's opponents, there is nothing funny about a president from the Brotherhood. Morsi heads its more inclusive political wing, but that has done little to lessen fears among some Christians and women.

Nagla Ali said true Islam embraces believers of other faiths, and she tries to dispel the idea that women would be subservient. She recalled her husband's deference to her about joining the Brotherhood, with its attendant dangers, 30 years ago.

She told him, “No problem. Let's head down that road.”

That's the kind of consulting and collaboration Morsi's allies say he will need if he wants to succeed.

"He as president should be only an umbrella for all others who are not enrolled in the Muslim Brotherhood," said former presidential candidate Abdullah al-Ashaal.

But some believe that no matter what Morsi pledges, the Brotherhood is not, at heart, a sharing organization. Political sociologist Said Sadek of the American University in Cairo points to the insignia on the group's flags.

"They have swords. And I don't think the sword they have is to cut cakes," he said.

Nagla Ali argues that kind of thinking misinterprets Islam, and she says her husband will be a servant to all Egyptians. She used the example of an early caliph known for his fairness to all.

She quoted Omar Ibn el-Khattaba as saying “if a camel stumbles in the Levant, I'll be held responsible.”

But with no constitution, and the role of president still undefined, perhaps Morsi's first big challenge is finding out what responsibilities he will even have.

You May Like

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs