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

N. Korea Sentences American to 6 Years Hard Labor

Matthew Miller's brief trial Sunday comes two weeks after 24-year old Miller and two other American detainees appealed to the US government to help free them More

Pakistan Rejects Afghan Criticism of 480-kilometer Border Trench

Military spokesman tells VOA the project is part of administrative and security measures taken to secure the mountainous border with Afghanistan More

Photogallery Typhoon Kalmaegi Makes Landfall in Philippines

Storm makes landfall late Sunday, cutting power and communications lines and forcing people to flee to higher ground 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.
Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interesti
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 12, 2014 8:35 PM
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.
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.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video Palestinians Turn to Rebuilding Gaza

After almost two months of conflict in Gaza, Palestinians are preparing to rebuild the isolated Mediterranean enclave with assistance from abroad. Meanwhile, an international human rights group has found that Israel likely violated international laws of war during some of its attacks on Gaza. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Middle Eastern Church Leaders Highlight Christians’ Plight

Patriarchs of Eastern Rite churches came to Washington this week to draw attention to the attacks against Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. VOA’s religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


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