Live updates: Scuffles witnessed in Qena and Minya polling stations
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.
4:00 pm: The heads of two polling stations in the city of Nagaa Hammadi in Upper Egypt’s Qena Governorate halted the voting process after clashes took place between supporters of Shafiq and Morsy. Verbal altercations quickly turned into scuffles, but military police intervened and contained the situation after separating the two parties.
At the Salah Salem School in Abu Qurqas, a village in Minya Governorate, there were brief clashes between the two candidates' supporters. The clashes appeared to have been started by representatives of the candidates, who were monitoring the elections.
3:45 pm: In Alexandria, one voter was arrested for carrying hashish at his polling station at the Port Said Experimental School, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported. Alexandria Governor Osama al-Fouly reportedly suspected the young man on sight and singled him out for a search by the military police.
Despite this surprising arrest, voter turnout has increased in some areas of Alexandria, including the central district of Raml Station, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm. The number of female voters increased in Sidi Gaber and Raml, it said, as Al-Seyouf school saw an intense turnout of women voters, as well as a high number of Salafis.
Naval forces seized a large banner of Mohamed Morsy in front of a school in Port Said Street in Alexandria, the paper said. The banner may have violated the ban on campaigning on the day of elections. Morsy supporters distributed a leaflet in the coastal city with a fatwa by Sheikh Ahmed Al-Mahlawy, saying that voting for Shafiq is religiously impermissible, while voting for Morsy is a religious duty. The leaflets were heavily distributed in the streets surrounding the polling stations, according to Al-Masry Al-Youn.
Religious justifications seemed to matter to many Morsy supporters. At the Imbaba Technical School, there was some tension between Shafiq and Morsy supporters after a man said that "one candidate promises to implement Sharia and the other doesn't. When I die and am questioned by God, my conscience will be clear that I voted for the candidate who promises to implement Sharia."
A man objected saying, "What, are you Muslims and we’re Jews? We're all Muslims."
A Shafiq representative then complained to an army officer and policeman that "the beards are campaigning less than 500 meters away from the polling station." She then alleged that Morsy had accused Shafiq of being an infidel and was accused of lying by a bystander. This led to another heated verbal exchange before she stormed off.
3:00 pm: A helicopter was seen flying close to the ground over many parts of greater Cairo. According to witnesses, the helicopter was flying over the downtown area before heading to eastern and northern Cairo.
The state-run Middle East News Agency reported that a number of armed forces helicopters had been flying over polling stations in Helmyat al-Zaytoun and its neighboring areas to monitor and follow up on the electoral process, as part of the measures taken by the armed forces to secure the elections.
2:30 pm: Turnout appears to be low across Cairo and in other governorates. In Zagazig in the Nile Delta, one judge said that turnout is about 20 percent.
At the Talaat Harb School in downtown Cairo, very few women are voting. Only five women are present, compared to about 30 men. A small but heated argument broke out between male voters until the army intervened. "Please don't speak to each other, just vote," an army officer told the men.
At the Cairo Towers polling station in the upscale neighborhood of Zamalek, turnout is significantly lower than on the first day of the first round of the election. The women's polling station is empty and about 10 people are waiting to vote in the men's section.
In Manial, there were almost no lines at any polling station. In addition to a lack of enthusiasm for the two, deeply polarizing candidates, the weather may account in part for the low voter turnout. Temperatures are expected to reach 37 degrees Celcius on Saturday.
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.
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.
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.
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