Egyptians share thoughts on historic poll

Voters speak out about the upcoming presidential election.

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    Egyptians share thoughts on historic poll
    Most opinion polls show former Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa in the lead [EPA]

    Cairo, Egypt - On May 23-24, Egyptians will vote in what is being billed as the first free presidential election in the country's history.

    Thirteen candidates are competing, including former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, and former Muslim Brotherhood activist Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh.

    Most polls show Moussa in the lead, although at least 40 per cent of voters say they are still undecided. Meanwhile, Shafiq is making a late surge in opinion polls.

    Al Jazeera's Matthew Cassel and Evan Hill spoke to several Egyptians to gauge the mood on the streets in the run-up to the historic vote.

    Magdy Girgis, 50, Shubra, market stall owner

    Magdy Girgis [Evan Hill/Al Jazeera]

    "I'm voting for Ahmed Shafiq, he's the best one for this time. He's from the military. In this phase in Egypt what's needed is very strict discipline. I'm not scared of anyone; the president will be for all the people and if he doesn't do what he should the people will kick him out.

    "I've worked here on Shubra Street my whole life. I studied chemistry and water treatment in university. I inherited this shop from my father, who got it from his father. A lot has changed here in the last 50 years ... My sister lives in Albany, [New York]. She loves it there. I've tried to go several times but I can't get a visa. The American Embassy here is very bad. Not hard, but bad.

    "The first thing I want the president to do is to restore security. Restoring security is more important than Shafiq being a member of the former regime [felool].

    "I like Hamdeen Sabahy but I don't think he has a strong character and I'm afraid he might be influenced by others, or he might be with the Muslim Brotherhood, we don't know.

    "I was here when the march went to Maspero. It was a peaceful march, really, they didn't have any weapons. [But] a relative of mine was killed there."

    Mohamed Abu Saud, 22, Imbaba, tuk-tuk driver

    Mohamed Abu Saud [Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera]

    "People are leaning towards Ahmed Shafiq, there is even a street named just for him [in Imbaba]. The people don't want the Muslim Brotherhood anymore; Sharia law is too extremist for Egyptians.

    "Egyptians don't want a man of religion, they want a man of politics. Because of this the people kicked out Abu Ismail.

    "That doesn't mean people don't want the Muslim Brotherhood, some people do. I'm undecided, but I'm thinking about voting for Ahmed Shafiq. I have the feeling that he would do something good for the country. If he goes back to Hosni Mubarak policies the people will oust him again. Tahrir [Square] has become accessible."

    Bata, 50, Shubra, vegetable seller

    Bata [Evan Hill/Al Jazeera]

    "I'm probably going to vote for Ahmed Shafiq. The most important thing is to benefit the country, and whoever's good will come out in the race. Not everyone who worked for the former regime is bad. [Prime Minister Kamel] Ganzouri is very good. We want someone to help the poor people. And four years will pass very quickly.

    "Security is the first priority, security for the people. We want someone who can control the country and give everyone his rights, and if he gives everyone his rights, work will become available.

    "The Coptics should be with us: we're one hand and our heart is with the Christians. We don't like the Muslim Brotherhood, they're very hard people. [Salafi sheikh and former presidential candidate] Hazem Abu Ismail is responsible for the events at Abbasiya; those were his people.

    "Everyone has his opinion, the most important thing is the benefit of the country."

    Omnia, 20, Muhandiseen, student

    Omnia [Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera]

    "No matter who wins, people are going to take to the streets with their demands [in protest]. People are only convinced of their own opinions.

    "I'm going to vote for Aboul Fotouh because he's not too Ikhwani [like the Muslim Brotherhood] or too secular.

    "It's important not too much like the Muslim Brotherhood because women shouldn't be forced to wear the niqab, but not too secular because religion should be a part of the country."


    Ahmed Abdul Motelb, 51, Shubra, corn vendor

    Ahmed Abdul Motelb [Evan Hill/Al Jazeera]

    "I'm voting for Ahmed Shafiq, and if he doesn't win, I'm voting for Hamdeen Sabahy [in the second round]. Shafiq is a politician, he can lead the country and keep the wheel of development moving, he has a smart mind. Hamdeen Sabahy has [Gamel] Abdel Nasser's mindset. In our country we need someone strong, not someone weak.

    "I'm not interested in the Islamist candidates. We don't want agents from outside. I take the Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] and Salafis and put them in a corner. If I want to walk around in my underwear in the street, I will do it, and no Salafi can come and tell me no.

    "Regarding Sabahy and Nasser, we used to be 20 million people, now we're 90 million, so the benefits have to be higher. Our emotion is not well. We don't want someone who comes to poor people with street stalls and tells us to shut them down or arrests us."

    Rabie al-Sayed, 50, downtown Cairo, labourer

    Rabie al-Sayed [Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera]

    "The [old] regime will not return. People didn't vote for felool [remnants of the old regime] in parliamentary elections. They have better ideas in Egypt, people are not going to vote for them.

    "The law that prohibits felool from running, Egyptians will apply [with their vote] in the elections.

    "We tried military rule for 60 years. Let's at least try Islamic rule for one term and see what happens. I'm going to vote [for] Dr Mohamed Morsi."


    With additional reporting by Nagham Osman.

    Follow Matthew Cassel on Twitter: @justimage

    Follow Evan Hill on Twitter: @evanchill

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



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