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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs