News / Africa

Egyptians Wary About Future as Historic Elections Begin

Egyptian women queue to vote in a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Nov. 28, 2011
Egyptian women queue to vote in a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Nov. 28, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
  • Beattie Q&A with David Faris, director of the International Studies Program at Roosevelt University in Chicago

Elizabeth ArrottJaphet Weeks

Egypt is entering the next stage of its political transition with parliamentary elections, a process that started Monday and is expected to continue for three months.  But, after a tumultuous year and now more than a week of violent demonstrations, many Egyptians are anxious about their country's future.

Victor Beattie's Q&A with David Farris, director of the International Studies Program at Roosevelt University in Chicago:

University student Habiba el Husseiny is not hopeful. "I honestly don't want to be a pessimist.  I want a better future for us.  Now I don't think it's the right time for them to take place, but they have to take place," he said.

It is a dilemma discussed in Husseiny's political science class at The American University in Cairo.

Major Alliances for Egypt's Parliamentary Elections

Democratic Alliance for Egypt: Formed in June 2011, it was the first significant political coalition to emerge after President Hosni Mubarak's February resignation. The coalition is led by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and includes at least five other political groups. The alliance started out as a broad-based coalition of liberal and Islamist parties but some of its original members left due to ideological differences.

Islamist Alliance (Alliance for Egypt): Led by the Salafist party al-Nour and includes at least two other groups. Its members were originally part of the Democratic Alliance but split because of a disagreement over the number of candidates they would be able to field in the elections. The Islamist Alliance formed in late September.

Egyptian Bloc: The liberal coalition has lost members since its formation in August and now includes only the Free Egyptians, Social Democratic and al-Tagammu parties. The bloc says it hopes to bring together political forces that are committed to a civil democratic state based on a principle of separation between religion and politics.

Completing the Revolution Alliance: Formed in October, the alliance includes youth, socialist, liberal and moderate Islamist parties. Most were formerly part of the Egyptian Bloc. Members include the Revolutionary Youth Coalition, the Egypt Freedom Party and the Socialist Popular Alliance Party

"How many of you have been to Tahrir?  Two?  Only two?" political sociologist Said Sadek asks students about their involvement in the protests.

Habiba Husseiny says she plans to visit Tahrir Square to oppose the government crackdown on demonstrators, not to support the protesters' anti-military cause.

"We're in very unstable times, and the economy is a disaster.  So this is not what they should be focusing on now.  They [protesters] should be focusing on our economy, our tourism, everything else except that," Husseiny stated.

Said Sadek says the military gives some Egyptians a sense of stability after the tumultuous events of the Arab Spring.

"The military is basically middle class, urban middle class, and they have many economic interests," he noted.

But the civil-military conflict in Tahrir Square is not the only source of tension.  Sadek blames Islamist politicians for inspiring further resentment and unrest.

"Political Islam is not Islam.  These are politicians who are using religion to reach power.  And they are building on that class struggle -- division between the village and the city, Bedouin life and modern life.  And they build on that," he said.

These different voices have left some Egyptians even more alienated.

Hassa'an says Egypt is entering a dark stage, with most parties having interests that do not reflect public opinion.  The working class, he says, are the "silent majority."

At The American University in Cairo, Professor Sadek is challenging his students to understand where they fit in Egypt at this historic crossroads. "Are you the majority or the minority?" he stated.

No matter how uncertain these days might be for many Egyptians, experts say the results of the elections might make that question a little easier to answer.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid