Live updates: Cairo's voters display enthusiasm for Ahmed Shafiq
Polling stations are open for the first day of voting in the presidential election run-offs. The second round of the election pits the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsy against former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq. The two candidates secured 5,764,952 and 5,505,327 votes respectively in the first round held in May. Forty-six percent of eligible voters cast their ballot in the first round of elections. The run-offs are taking place in some 13,101 polling stations nationwide. The elections are supervised by 14,509 judges, with the help of employees from the Ministry of Justice. Vote counting is expected to begin on Monday and the final results are expected to be announced on Thursday.
1:30 pm: Across Cairo, many voters are enthusiastically casting ballots for Shafiq, who they believe will bring about stability after a tumultuous 15 months, even if that means backing a candidate allied with Hosni Mubarak.
Mohamed Mahmoud Ali, a kiosk owner in the middle-class neighborhood of Manial, is voting for Shafiq because he is afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood, even though he is also concerned that Shafiq will try to revive Mubarak’s regime. "The emotional choice is Morsy, but the reasonable one is Shafiq," says Ali. "During the transitional period [the Muslim Brotherhood] have created conflicts with everyone: the SCAF, the judiciary — the only thing left is for them to clash with us the people if we disagree with them and then there will be civil war."
Wafaa Kamel, a 50-year-old housewife in the same neighborhood, is also voting for Shafiq because she trusts his experience. "The most important thing is for the candidate to be a respectable statesman. A good representation for Egypt in front of the world and has the experience to restore stability and not someone new who'll be learning on the job on our expense, not someone who has a complex from the past and will take it out on us," she says.
In Hadayek al-Kobba, a working class neighborhood in northern Cairo, Leila Mohamed, 64, a housekeeper, said that most people in the line around her were voting for Shafiq. “People are mostly afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood. They don’t want them in power.”
Ali Gomaa, in the upscale neighborhood of Heliopolis, demonstrated those fears. “I don’t want to live under an Islamic dictatorship. People say Shafiq is feloul, but I don’t see any evidence. I just see someone who did a good job with the airport.” When Shafiq was Mubarak’s minister of civil aviation he oversaw the renovation of Cairo International Airport.
In the poor neighborhood of Imbaba, Egypt Independent encountered an ardent Shafiq supporter loudly imploring God to make Shafiq win.
"Shafiq is an intellectual. He isn't a thug like the other one, who opened prisons and let prisoners out," the man, Abdel Hay Mostafa Darweesh, said in reference to allegations that the Brotherhood, together with Hamas, broke into prisons during the revolution.
"Shafiq made a five star airport," Darweesh added. The 62 year old insisted that the Brotherhood have no real support and that their success in the parliamentary elections was the result of vote-buying. "The Brotherhood were imprisoned under three presidents and deserved it. They weren't oppressed," he said.
Darweesh brushed off allegations that Shafiq represents the old regime. "We are all Hosni Mubarak. We all loved Hosni Mubarak," he said.
1:00 pm: The Red Sea resort of Hurghada witnessed a high voter turnout, and most of the voters were Copts.
Many Copts also took to the polling stations in the mostly Coptic neighborhood of Shubra, north Cairo. Nancy, a Coptic voter, told Egypt Independent sarcastically, “I will sure vote for Morsy because I want to wear long sleeves this summer,” referring to the Brotherhood’s conservative dress code. Safaa, an employee helping a judge supervising one of the polling stations in Shubra, told Egypt Independent, “I have no voice but if I were to vote I’ll surely vote for Shafiq. He's elegant, he knows how to talk. Morsy takes his orders from the [Brotherhood's] supreme guide."
12:30 pm: Shafiq voted in the polling station of Fatima Anana School in the Fifth Settlement, east Cairo. He cast his ballot amid tight security — military forces had cordoned off the place. His supporters cheered when he entered, chanting "The people want Ahmed Shafiq" and "The president is here." But Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that some voters in the polling station also chanted "God willing, Morsy will win."
Morsy cast his ballot in a polling station in Zaqazig, Sharqiya. Hundreds of Brotherhood members welcomed him in the station, chanting "Allahu Akbar" (God is great). Followers also chanted “Islameya” (Islamic). Morsy was reported to have driven his car into the courtyard of the polling station. According to Egypt Independent’s reporter, he stood in the queue waiting for his turn and said “the revolution continues.”
“The parliament dissolution benefited Morsy. It became crystal clear that Morsy is the revolution's candidate. Many people are voting for Morsy in protest of Shafiq,” said Mahmoud Saadany, a member of the Morsy campaign in Sharqiya.
12:15 pm: Shafiq’s campaign provided air conditioned buses to transfer voters to a polling station in Banha, Qalyubiya, in the Delta region, Al-Ahram reported. The paper's website also reported that verbal clashes erupted between Shafiq's supporters and members of the April 6 Youth Movement when the latter said Shafiq's supporters were influencing voters to choose their candidate. Last week, the April 6 Youth Movement said that it supports the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, Mohamed Morsy.
12:00 pm: Mazghoun, in Giza's rural outskirts, is so resolutely behind Brotherhood candidate Morsy that even Christians are voting for him, Mazghoun residents were eager to point out.
Shawqy Suleiman Girgis, a Christian, said that a local church leader had sanctioned voting for Morsy, and that he himself would do so. "I'm not afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood. God is here. These people are respectable," Girgis said. During the first round of elections Morsy came first in Mazghoun while Shafiq placed sixth. The same pattern appears to be playing out today.
Mohamed Mahmoud said that Egypt witnessed "so many catastrophes" under Mubarak and that people want a change.
Sherif Zaky said that a Shafiq victory would mean the end of the revolution. "Logic says that I should elect someone I haven't been oppressed by," Zaky said.
Mohamed Zaky, who described himself as a Salafi and is not related to Sherif, said that he voted for Morsy because he will implement Sharia, "but not cutting off of hands and all that business." If Shafiq wins without fraud, "this is his fate and I must accept it," Zaky said. "I have to give him a chance — I'd be wronging him if I protested the result."
Brotherhood member Saeed Salah Eddin described Shafiq as "having come in through the window" and said that "only people with personal interests or who hate themselves vote for Shafiq."
At least one Mazghoun resident disagreed. Mohy Bakkar voted Shafiq both in the first and second rounds. He described Shafiq as a diplomat who will get the country back on its feet. "It's not only feloul [remnants of Mubarak’s regime] who support Shafiq. I'm not feloul or state security or a member of [Mubarak’s] National Democratic Party. I want someone intelligent who doesn't belong to a group who he'll take orders from," Bakkar said.
Bakkar voted for the Brotherhood in the parliamentary elections and said that his decision to vote for Shafiq in this ballot was largely strategic: "Who will oppose the Brotherhood if they dominate parliament and Morsy is president?" he asked. The Parliament, which was dominated by the Brotherhood’s political party, was dissolved on Thursday by court order.
Meanwhile, in the poor Cairo neighborhood of Dar al-Salaam, Ahmed Ramadan, 43, is also basing his decision on anti-feloul sentiment. “It’s not about Islamists or any of that nonsense. It’s about new blood and the change that some people died trying to bring about. Shafiq might be a good man but he’s like the last member of a family that moved out,” Ramadan said.
Voting at the same polling station, Ali Sabry said his reason for voting for Shafiq was simple. “We just want people to be able to breathe again. I don’t think either candidate can do this, but Shafiq might have a better chance as the state won’t be working against him.” Shafiq, a former military officer and a longtime minister in Mubarak’s cabinet, is viewed as the preferred, if unofficial, candidate of the military and state bureaucracy.
11:30 am: Ali Gomaa, Egypt's grand mufti, cast his ballot in a polling station in 6th of October City. Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that as soon as Gomaa arrived, voters in the queue asked him to go ahead and vote without queuing. In his Friday sermon, Gomaa urged Egyptians to go out and vote for whichever candidate they think will be better for the country.
Saad al-Katatny, speaker of the recently dissolved parliament, also cast his ballot at a polling station in 6th of October City.
Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie has called on the Egyptian people to "isolate the enemies of their revolution in the presidential election." A political isolation law passed by Parliament and aimed at excluding Shafiq from the race was rejected by the Supreme Constitutional Court on Thursday as unconstitutional. Badie wrote on his official Facebook page, “Let people say their word, and isolate the enemies of their revolution.” Badie added that Morsy's candidacy is as “a way to save the blessed revolution of the people of Egypt, and to completely reject going back to the former regime.”
Amr Moussa, a former presidential candidate, also called on people not to boycott the elections and to go cast their ballots. According to the state-run news agency MENA, Moussa was casting his ballot in the east Cairo district of Heliopolis. He said he expected the court rulings that dissolved Parliament and kept Shafiq in the race to have a negative impact on voters' turnout. "We have to stand behind the next president," he said, adding that he was called on by his followers to form a party to unite all those who voted for him in the first round of elections.
Meanwhile, Anne Patterson, the US ambassador to Egypt, visited a polling station in the working class area of Omraneya, Giza, to follow the electoral process in the district, according to MENA.
11:00 am: Queues were not long at the Sadat Preparatory School in Zagazig, in the Delta governorate of Sharqiya. Sharqiya is where Morsy hails from, but it failed him in the first round of the election, as Shafiq garnered more votes than him there.
During the run-offs, signs of polarization were already clear. One Shafiq supporter hit and tore the clothing of an OnTV reporter. The reporter, Tarek Abdel Ghaffour, was heard saying that he was against Shafiq. “You want to ruin the country! The SCAF is more honorable than anyone,” the Shafiq supporter screamed. A woman, also supporting Shafiq, came out of the polling station complaining that an employee had been pushing her to vote for Morsy. She insulted the Brotherhood shortly before she left.
“The past two days witnessed a deadly fight between both blocs but I believe in the results of the ballot box. We will respect its outcome,” said Ahmed Attiya, 31, a professor of engineering at Zagazig University. Ahmed Bahgat, a professor of civil law at the university, is voting for Shafiq. “Shafiq is not a remnant of the old regime. He didn't cause corruption to political life. If he did, he would have been detained. He is not against the revolution. He will never be like Mubarak. If he becomes like Mubarak, we will depose him in the next elections and there will be a Parliament that monitors him.”
Mohamed Akmal, 25, a medical doctor, said “We will vote for Morsy. I evaluated both candidates and realized that Shafiq didn't have any program. He just promised to restore security and didn’t have a long term plan for how he will rise up with Egypt's economy. Shafiq belongs to the old regime. He was prime minister during the Battle of the Camel. The smearing of the Brotherhood in the past two weeks undermined Shafiq’s credibility.”
10:30 am: At the Ahmed Oraby Elementary School in Cairo's Dar al-Salaam neighborhood, voting was more orderly than in the previous round of the election and lines were short. Anti-Shafiq graffiti artists had left their mark on the school recently, writing "Shafiq is the old regime" and "Shafiq=Mubarak." Alaa Osman, 42, said he was not happy that he voted for Shafiq, but felt "caught between two fires." "My priority was security and I think Shafiq will be more capable of restoring it, but I know he is a remnant of the former regime," Osman said.
At the nearby Omar Khattab Elementary School, Karim Hassan, 39, also had concerns about Shafiq's "feloul" status. Hassan voted for Morsy "because the other guy is feloul. The Freedom and Justice Party has made mistakes, but they've also been the target of a vicious smear campaign. I work in the media, so I know." He is a sound technician.
At the Taliaa School in the middle-class Cairo neighborhood of Sayeda Zeinab there was a steady flow of a couple of hundred voters throughout the morning. Classrooms and voting queues seemed organized and were moving quickly. Many people said they want to vote because it is their right to make their voices heard. Ayad Samir, 28, said she voted for Shafiq this time, but voted for Nasserist candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi in the first round. "I chose Hamdeen in the first round because he is a Nasserist, and felt he would know how to give us our rights, especially the youth. But I'm not with the Brotherhood," she said.
Fathy Mohamad, 33, who said he doesn't have much work and is of a basic education background, voted for Morsy in both rounds. "I'm of one principle, I don't change my mind. I like his election program. He seems to be the one searching for the rights of martyrs and the unemployed."
10:00 am: Hours before the polling stations opened, the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) reiterated its intention to run a free and fair election. On its official page on Facebook, the SCAF said that it will deal firmly with any attempt to prevent voters from casting their ballots freely. The statement added that the armed forces have deployed throughout the county in order to secure the elections and to prevent any violations or violence that would hinder the electoral process.
Elections monitors have arrived at different polling stations. Former US President Jimmy Carter, who heads a monitoring mission, arrived to a polling station in the working class area of Boulaq Abul Ela. Carter had previously criticized the Egyptian authorities for not granting his mission enough access in the first round of elections and for not disclosing voters' lists. In Garden City, an international monitor told Egypt Independent that the polling station opened on time. "It was a bit messy inside the classroom. They could have done better," said Cassim Uteem, head of mission of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, the monitoring group. He added that they are are now allowed to spend more than 30 minutes in a polling station, which was previously the time limit for a monitor in one place.
9:30 am: In the affluent area of Garden City, in central Cairo, some 150 voters queued before a polling station. They were mostly old men and women. Manal Gouda, 47, a lawyer covered in niqab, was planning to vote for Morsy. But she wasn't allowed to vote because she only had a passport and not a national ID, which she said she lost. "I was allowed to vote for Morsy using my passport in the first round, but the judge refused this time." Sawsan, 72, a political science professor, also plans to vote for Morsy. "He is the candidate of the civil state. We don't want someone who represents the military anymore." In the first round, she voted for the moderate Islamist candidate Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh. Meanwhile, Kamal Eddine Khateeb, 76, was voting for Shafiq. "We want someone who can restore stability and who won't create religion-based identity differences," he said.
In Zamalek, more than 100 people lined up outside a Zamalek art school as security and poll workers opened the gates and began letting voters in four or five at a time. Omar Shawki, a 26-year-old volunteer who is helping organize the lines, says people have been queuing since 6 am. He anticipates roughly the same turnout of 9,000 voters who cast ballots at the polling station in the first round. He said he is fed up with the long transition but that the country is taking "baby steps" toward democracy. Voter Abla Bahnasawy said she was voting for Shafiq, prompting a voter behind her to yell "Shafiq is a killer." The second voter refused to give her name. "If Shafiq wins and he knows my name he could kill me," she said. Other voters in line shook their heads.
9:00 am: Polling stations have opened for voters across the nation. Short queues of voters are reported in various areas. Voting has been encouraged by the state, which declared both voting days, Saturday and Sunday, a day off. Meanwhile, some delays in opening polling stations before voters have been reported. According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, some polling stations in the Bassateen area, south of Cairo, haven't opened yet since supervising judges and employees haven't arrived yet. Similarly, some polling stations in Mansha'at Radwan in Giza didn't open to the public yet, due to a delay in the arrival of voters' lists. Almasry Alyoum