What a roller coaster ride. Rumors and counter rumors, ups and downs, euphoria and despair. The fate of a whole country in the balance. The future of 90 million people, and, given Egypt’s strategic geopolitical state, the future of the region, which in turn affects that of the world.
The first day of voting ended up on a depressing note. The MB, through their formidable media access, their highly organized social media presence, and through their sympathizers in the public media, managed to pull a fast one on all, by spreading the fear that turnout was very low. This was naively taken up by some of the few honest media people, and spread like wildfire. Tempers were lost, and a state nearing panic ensued. All this played right into the hands of the MB. They planted the seed and kept nurturing it, till it became a monster of an idea. This in turn spread abroad and media in the west, which isn’t exactly unbiased, started laying the ground for future accusations of fraud. A dire situation indeed.
Then calm, logical thought started taking over. A few clear minds started pointing out the fallacy of this premise: the low turn out of voters. It was pointed out that: 1) Egyptians’ normal pattern of voting in summer is early in the morning and late in the evening, to avoid the scorching heat during the mid morning till early evening hours. This was done. 2) Egyptians are very laid back, and usually when they have two days, they go vote the end of the second day. This too was done. 3) The number of voting stations was increased drastically to encompass the increasing number of politically active Egyptians during the past three years. Thus the previously anticipated picture of crowds lining up to vote, disappeared, giving visual weight to the argument of a low turn out. 4) The pre voting process was very well organized, which in turn made voting very quick and easy. A number was set up for mobiles and a site for the internet, to which one sent their ID national number. If you were eligible to vote you would get an immediate reply giving you the name of the school assigned as your polling statin, it’s detailed address, the number of the room where you are to go, and your number on the list within that room. This excellent organization made for easy access and smooth voting, thus helping in eliminating congestion.
Once all the above was made clear, once the honest media got the message, things took a turn to the better. Morale started rising, turnout was seen differently, and all those who went to vote early in the morning, or late in the evening, were rewarded by the sight of the much looked-for crowds. A certain feeling of cautious optimism started spreading, but still tinged with worry. Only the final results would assuage that.
Then the High Committee for Elections announced the prolongation of voting for a third day. The roller coaster ride started again, the rumor mill took momentum, the see-saw effect was again in full swing. Why did they do that? Was turn out really that low that another day is needed? Were the MB right after all? Isn’t it bad enough that many of those working away from their home towns could not vote because of a paranoid fear of a possibility of this being used as a loophole for fraud? This has deprived several hundred thousands from their right to vote. Was this the reason a third day was given? To give them a chance to travel home, vote, then come back to work? But if so, the day off work was only given to civil servants, and that was the day BEFORE! What was going on?
By evening, with tensions running high, the turnout started surging in earnest. Not all the good organization could have anticipated the number of people who came in droves to vote, and the general public finally got their visual assurance that the turn out was good.
Once all the voting was done and the polling stations closed, all eyes were glued to TV screens and the transparent, very public beginning of the count. Until the first preliminary results started coming in from all over Egypt through the small polling stations, until a trend started shaping up, things were tense indeed. Then bit by bit, the numbers started showing an overwhelming majority in favor of Al Sisi, but what is more, an overwhelming majority in turnout! Egypt even topped the percentage of turnout of Europe in its last elections! Now who has democracy? Now who is apathetic? Now who needs to be taught what democracy is? Egypt is now back with a vengeance. Mostly, the women of Egypt have taught the world a lesson.
The role played by the women of Egypt during the past three years should go down in world history. When the MB were in power they tried to subdue women in every way, even through legislating laws that would suffocate women in childhood, allowing girls to be married off by their fathers at the age of 9 years old! Egyptian women resented this very deeply and it was the flagrant, obvious resistance of women to all such attempts by the MB which brought to the foreground the fact that these archaic notions would never be accepted by the Egyptian society. One of the very first pictures at the beginning of the year of Morsi’s rule is that of an Egyptian woman hitting, with her shoe, a bearded man who was harassing her to wear the veil!
Another example is that of the dancing, singing sketches by a very vulgar, very popular artist, taking it out on the MB one by one. These sketches went viral on YouTube. With such courageous, outspoken women in Egypt, the MB and Salafis were doomed. How can their glum, humorless attempts at dignity survive with a people that love their music and jokes. They could not, and they did not.
The unofficial results are in. Al Sisi has won the Presidency with a landslide. He won 23 million votes plus, without a professional campaign, without bribes of oil bottles and packs of sugar, which were the trademark of the MB, without coercion or pressure of any sort. His enemies and detractors would try to find anything to tarnish his reputation, but the fact is, he is greatly loved by his people. He was voted in through sheer love and gratitude to a person who is seen as having rescued Egypt from a fate worse than death: of becoming a failed state like Iraq, Somalia or Libya. At great personal risk, he stepped up to the plate and gave support to a desperate, unarmed people who appealed to him for help. He risked his life and that of his family if anything had gone wrong, and in the eyes of the Egyptians he is their hero.
Today, and for the next few days, will be days of celebration, of relief, of joy at getting the Egypt we know back. We deserve some time for celebration, for happiness for relaxation after the tensions of the past three years, culminated by the last few months and finally by the three days of voting.
The elections are over, the best man won. God bless our beloved Egypt, it’s loving people and it’s new President.
29 May 2014