News / USA

    Egyptian Expats in US Vote for Mubarak Successor

    An Egyptian expatriate displays his ballot before casting his vote.An Egyptian expatriate displays his ballot before casting his vote.
    x
    An Egyptian expatriate displays his ballot before casting his vote.
    An Egyptian expatriate displays his ballot before casting his vote.
    Mohamed Elshinnawi
    Egyptian Americans holding Egyptian citizenship started voting at Egypt’s diplomatic missions around the United States this week to help choose a president for their ancestral homeland 10,000 kilometers away. The polling in the U.S. is part of a run-off vote that will culminate in Egypt proper June 16-17.

    The presidential election – the first after strongman Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in a popular uprising early last year and widely considered the country’s first free one – pits Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi against former air force pilot and short-term Mubarak era prime minister Ahmed Shafiq. Candidates favored by many Egyptians who rose up for change nearly 18 months ago did not make it into the second round.

    No good choices

    For many voters, both in the U.S and Egypt, the choice they now face is one that forces them to identify, as they put it, the lesser of two evils - a choice between recreating the old regime they see represented by Shafiq, and building an Islamist state with limited civil liberties, as many expect Egypt would look like under Morsi.

    “We are between the devil and the deep blue sea; neither choice is a good choice at the moment. However, one has to make a choice, non-voting is not an option,” said Millad Bessada who drove two hours from his home in the state of Maryland to the polling station at the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

    Bessada added that he decided to vote for the “devil he knows” rather than selecting the one he doesn’t. His choice, Shafiq, is seen by many as the “quick fix” candidate capable of restoring law and order in country that has been in turmoil, both political and economic, since the uprising began.

    Another voter, Maha Atoot, visibly disappointed over her preferred candidate not having made it into the runoff, strongly hinted that she, too, cast her vote for Shafiq.

    “I voted for the one who I believe will be able to bring stability and already has had experience in ruling,” she said.

    Others, however, voiced unease about Shafiq’s connections to the previous regime and his military background, associated by many in Egypt with Mubarak era repressions.

    Voter Tarek Alhabashy, disillusioned over his favorite not making it into the second round, indicated that, rather than not voting at all, he cast his ballot against the old regime.

    “I cannot sit at home and complain; I came to vote for one of the two that may put to an end to the military ruling of Egypt.”

    Aida Mady joined a growing number of Egyptian expat voters who decided to either boycott the runoff election or void their votes in protest.

    “Because I felt discouraged to [choose] between the least favored candidates to me, I voted for both and wrote a note on the ballot [saying] the revolution is still on.”

    First 100 days – what voters expect

    Regardless of who might emerge the winner, Egyptian Americans have largely made up their minds about what they would expect from the new president of Egypt in his first 100 days in office.

    For Milad Bessada security is the top priority. “He has to give people confidence that the revolution’s objectives will be maintained; once they feel their sacrifices were not for nothing, then you will get security.”

    Bessada added that the new president should establish a presidential council with vice presidents, including liberals and revolutionary activists, who might help him further the objectives of last year’s uprising.

    Egyptian American businessman Ali Gamay, too, insisted that security is the number one priority. “Without stability and security, Egypt would not be able to revive its economy or bring back tourists,” said he.

    Gamay added that social justice should be another high priority, especially addressing the grievances of the poor.

    For Maha Atoot security is a top priority, too, but she is also concerned about the future make-up of the Egyptian state. “The new president has to make sure Egypt will have a civil constitution, not a religious code; he also needs to reassure young revolutionaries that he will achieve the goals of the revolution,” said she.

    High expat vote turnout

    Despite the choices, participation in the expat vote seemed strong. According to Sameh Shukry, Egypt’s ambassador in Washington, 27,300 Egyptians registered to vote at the five polling stations set up in the U.S.

    “The turnout was higher in the first day of voting in the runoff compared to the first day in the first round of the presidential elections.”

    Shukry said that voters were more familiar in the second round with the ground rules, whether they voted by mail or in person.

    Representatives of the two presidential candidates have been allowed to monitor the expat vote. Shukry said vote counting will start immediately after polling stations close at 8 pm June 9 and that results will be announced that same night.

    Last year, an Egyptian court gave Egyptian expatriates in more than 140 countries around the world the right to vote for the first time.

    But both in the U.S. and Egypt questions remain about who will succeed Hosni Mubarak, just sentenced by an Egyptian court to life in prison for his role in the deaths of hundreds of protesters killed last year during the government's crackdown against the uprising. Some also brace for possible last-minute surprises which may include a postponement of the vote scheduled for mid-June. The country’s Constitutional Court may still disqualify Shafiq on the grounds of a law, passed by Egypt’s new parliament, which would bar ex-Mubarak officials from running for office.

    You May Like

    Video Twists and Turns Aplenty in US Presidential Race

    Even as Americans pause for this week’s Memorial Day holiday, much attention is focused on the presidential contest

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora