For many Egyptian voters, finally an election that matters
Today's parliamentary elections in Egypt saw a high turnout. Some voters confessed they didn't really know the candidates, but were excited to participate nonetheless.
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While the FJP is likely to perform well, a larger question is how even more conservative Islamist groups might fare. In the Sayyeda Zainab neighborhood, posters could be seen everywhere for the Nour Party, set up by Salafis, who were repressed under Mubarak.Skip to next paragraph
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At the neighborhood mosque, located next to a police station that was burned during the revolution, two elderly men said they had voted for the Nour Party because they wanted to see Islamic law, or sharia, govern Egypt.
“We ask that God would help us administer this state according to sharia,” said Mahmoud Farouk. “Thank God that he rescued us from the corruption we were under. It is the first time for us to feel we are really free people.”
Azer said that elsewhere in Cairo representatives of the FJP as well as the Party were buying votes for 50 Egyptian pounds (about $8).
New parliament will have limited power
For some voters, the act of voting seemed more important than the candidate they picked. It was a statement of victory over the authorities who had long abused Egyptians, and many seemed to revel in the chance to finally choose representatives they hoped would serve the people.
“This was the first time I voted since Gamal Abdel Nasser,” said Ramadan Abu El Hassan Ali, an elderly man in the robes typical of those from southern Egypt. “I have no idea about any of the parties except this one [candidate] whose name is Mohsen,” he said, referring to a local candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party. “The first one I encounter, I will elect him.”
Mr. Ali wasn’t the only one unfamiliar with the candidates.
“The problem is that I don’t know any candidate, so I’ll just go and pick someone by chance,” said accountant Magda Howady.
Her friend Nahed Mohamed, a middle-aged secretary who wears a veil, announced she would vote for the Egyptian Bloc, an alliance of secular-minded leftist and liberal parties. One of them is headed by Christian business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, who ignited controversy when he posted a cartoon on Twitter showing a bearded Micky Mouse and veiled Minnie – a commentary on the growing clout of Islamist movements here.
The two women argued over whether the cartoon was insulting to Islam. Mrs. Mohamed said it was not, and argued that the Egyptian Bloc deserved her vote because it included many businessmen who will work to better Egypt’s failing economy. It was a debate – over election choices – that the two friends had never had before.
Correspondent Sarah Lynch contributed reporting from Tahrir Square.